7 Low Impact Cardio Workouts

While cardio workouts are among the best ways to burn calories, build fitness and shed extra pounds, some cardio or aerobics workouts can be hard on the joints, particularly the knees and feet. Here are 7 options for high-powered cardio workouts that don’t stress the knee joint or put excess stress on your feet.

1. Step Aerobics

Adding a step element to your aerobics workout can greatly increase the intensity and effectiveness of your workout. For beginners, a four-inch step will provide plenty of a challenge, but expert step aerobicizers can use a step up to twelve inches high. During the step portion of your workout, be sure to bend your knee no farther than a ninety degree angle, and maintain a moderate pace.

2. Ellipticals

Elliptical trainers allow the body to experience all the aerobic and cardio benefits of running, with none of the jarring impact to the joints. By increasing the intensity or length of the workout, you can challenge the body even farther, and see rapid, dramatic results. While elliptical trainers can be expensive to purchase for at home use, they are available at many fitness centers.

3. Swimming

Because the water supports your body, swimming and water aerobics are excellent choices for those with joint issues. Your body works against the resistance of the water, adding additional intensity to the workout. Many fitness or recreation centers offer water aerobics classes, or just spend an hour at the lap pool to improve your breast stroke.

4. Low-Impact Circuit Training

Circuit training is a very effective approach to any workout, and is easily adaptable to provide a low-impact cardio workout. Using knee lifts, lunges, arm movements and other exercises to make up the circuit will give you great results, without jarring your joints. If you have access to a personal trainer at your fitness club or elsewhere, have him put together a program for you to help you get started.

5. Inline Skating

Another challenging workout approach, inline skating takes some practice, but can also be an intense workout with little demand on the knees. Many areas have paved trails for skaters, so scope out your area and see what facilities are available. Before you embark, though, be sure you have elbow pads, knee pads and the all-important helmet in case of spills.

6. Stationary Bike

A great at-home workout, the stationary bike is also easy on the joints. Park your bike in front of the TV and watch a movie, and be sure to vary your speed and the resistance of the pedals for even better, faster results.

7. Walking

While walking is more likely to jostle the joints than the above options, it’s still a viable option for many, even those with knee issues. Get into a good pair of walking shoes and take off for a stroll around the neighborhood. Bring the dog along if you have one, or do a few circuits around the block with the kids. If you have any specific problems that might make walking problematic, be sure to consult with a doctor.


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  • Gravity Gardener

    If you like what you are doing you will stick with it…exercise is key to better health

    Indoor bike training is becoming more common and if you are thinking about joining the gym, you may want to look at some home based units you can purchase for about the same price.There are three main types of indoor bike training approaches; fan, magnetic and fluid based.

    Good info

    Gravity Gardener

  • Susan D.

    I have problem with my foot and thigh and high intense cardio is out of the question. I have tried the treadmill, the bike, the elleptical trainer, the rowing machine, etc., and these all aggravate the problem. Any kind of motion seems to make it worse. I was thinking of getting low cardio workouts for at home, but have no idea which is the best one. I walk around the track at the gym at a pretty good pace, but feel I need something a little more intense. Any suggestions out there?

  • Boka

    Biking and stationary bikes are not good for men. They cause impotence. and sexual dysfunction in 60% of bikers. That s a huge percentage. That’s why no biking for me.

  • adam casto

    boka i would suggest looking in to a recumbent bike all the gain of biking without all the pain and no fear of damage to your. nether regions

  • trey

    im a 45yr old male. i smoke, & im waaaay out of shape. im trying 2 quit smoking, but its really hard. i know i need to do some type of exercises but i get so out of breath. is there any exercises i can do that i can slowly get to where i can actually exercise without almost passing out ? i know, i know, ive got to stop smoking. im really trying. please give me some suggestions. no preaching bout my smoking, i know thats whats hurting me, so please no preaching bout that. oh yeah, i had a heartattack in august of 2010. so i need a workout that will help strengthen my heart but not cause me to have another one. HELP !!!!!! thanks for your help.

  • Dawn


    I would check with your doctor to see if there are any cardiac rehab facilities close to you. If your doctor says that you have recovered to the point where you can exercise they would be the first point of contact. Water exercises at your local y may also be an option for you. Check with your doctor first before you start any exercise program.

    Stretching programs and good to start any program. Do some research on the internet for low impact or modified programs. That should be a good start fou and good luck my friend.