High Impact vs Low Impact Exercises

Regular exercise has a lot of health benefits. It boosts energy, improves mood, and reduces the risk of chronic diseases. Exercises can be classified into two categories: high impact exercises and low impact exercises. Identifying what your personal needs are will help you choose which type of exercise is best for you. In this post, we will compare high impact vs low impact exercises.

What is High Impact Exercise?

High Impact ExerciseHigh impact exercises are those that move both your feet off the ground at the same time. Some examples include running, jumping, knee-highs, burpees, jumping jacks, and cross training. They produce faster results but are harder on the body. This type of exercise is ideal for people who are already working out for quite some time, fitness buffs, and athletes.

What is Low Impact Exercise?

Low Impact ExerciseLow impact exercises are those that leave at least one foot on the ground. Some examples include walking, yoga, Pilates, moderate weight training, and dancing. Because there is less impact, low impact exercises tend to be gentler on joints and muscles. This type of exercise is ideal for beginners and those who are recovering from an injury.

Some people consider exercises such as cycling, swimming, and water aerobics to be low impact as well. But to be more precise, these can be described as “no impact” because the body is supported during movement (by machine or water).

When to Do High Impact Exercises?

You can do high impact exercises if:

You want to lose weight quickly – High impact exercises require more energy. You will be able to burn more calories in a relatively short amount of time, so they are ideal for people who want to lose weight fast.

You want a tougher challenge – Generally speaking, high impact workouts tend to be more intense, so they are not the best choice for beginners. But, if your goal is to be in the best possible shape and you are not afraid to push hard to achieve it, high impact exercises are ideal for you.

You are training for competition – Whether it’s a marathon or a fitness competition, high impact exercises can help you get ready for the big day. They are perfect for boosting power and building muscle mass.

You are at low risk for injury – Because they are harder on the body, high impact exercises are more likely to cause injury. They put more strain on the joints, muscles, and tendons, so they are generally not recommended for people who are at a higher risk for injury. High impact exercises are NOT recommended for the elderly, pregnant women, and people with certain bone disorders.

When to Do Low Impact Exercises?

Low impact exercises are ideal for you if:

You’re injured and recovering – If you are trying to stay off of a specific muscle or joint that has been troublesome in the past, it is best to go low impact. You’re not yet at 100%, so you have to take it slow and easy.

You want to go easy on your joints – If you consistently have sore joints after doing an exercise, you may be putting excessive stress on your body. That does not mean you should avoid high impact exercises altogether, but for now, you should give your joints a break.

To improve alignment and balance – Typically, low impact exercises focus more on balance, stretching, and alignment rather than building power and burning calories. Yoga and Pilates are good examples of such exercises.

To take a break from cardio – Low impact doesn’t mean it’s always easy. You can still burn calories and get your heart rate up without going high impact. It’s okay to change things up from high impact cardio to low impact exercise every now and then.


When choosing between high impact vs low impact exercises, it’s important to determine what your goals are. And while doing exercises, “listen to your body”. Know when to push and when to relax. If you feel something is not right or if you have a pre-existing medical condition, consult a physician before starting an exercise routine.

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