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Fit Tip: Impact vs. Intensity


Many people confuse the terms “impact” and “intensity” when it comes to workouts. “Impact” refers to the force of your body used in a particular exercise, while “intensity” refers to the level of difficulty, focus and your power.  

High impact exercises include running, jogging, plyometrics (jumping) and other workouts where the body is making contact with, or pounding, the ground. Low impact exercises typically mean that one foot stays in contact with the ground, such as walking, climbing, riding a bike or pedaling the elliptical trainer.

Since high impact exercises tend to put more stress on the joints – particularly ankles, knees, hips and backs – the good news is that low impact does not mean low intensity.

Follow this advice to find a low impact/high intensity workout that works for you:

Low impact can be high intensity. Another word for intensity is exertion – how hard you are working. When it comes to workouts, intensity also means raising your heart rate or your concentration level, which can happen concurrently while performing a low impact exercise. Add intensity to your workout by increasing your range of motion, increasing your speed, adding resistance, changing directions (moving forward/back/diagonal instead of stationary), ramping up your incline or moving your arms above your heart and head. 

Low impact/high intensity workouts:

  • Power walking and swimming are two excellent examples of low impact, high-intensity workouts that provide no impact on your joints. By adding short bursts of speed or an occasional steep hill to your walking workouts, you can increase the intensity of your workouts as well as your calorie burn.
  • Climbing stairs, riding a bike or pedaling an elliptical are all great low imapct workouts that can fall into the high intensity category depending on your effort. 
  • Try walking lunges while pressing hand weights overhead or side step with deep squats and a resistance band around the ankles.  
  • Don’t forget dancing and aerobics, which usually incorporate lots of overhead arms and movement using large ranges of motion.   

Benefits of low impact/high intensity workouts.  If you want to get in a good workout, increase your calorie burn and get your heart rate up without all of the jumping and pounding on the ground, try a low impact/high intensity workout.  Protect your joints, but push yourself to work hard.  Don’t use the excuse that you can’t increase your heart rate because your body can’t take the high intensity pounding anymore. Instead, work your mental muscles and push yourself to achieve! 

Stationary Bike
High Intensity Workouts
High Impact Workouts
Low Intensity Workouts
Low Impact Workouts
Fit TIp


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