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hyrdrow_logoLow-impact exercise is a great way to stay active and boost your health. It’s also gentle on joints, making it ideal for anyone wanting to enjoy the benefits of exercise while reducing their risk of injury.

More good news is that there are plenty of low-impact exercises you can do from the comfort of your own home.

To help you get started, we’ve partnered with Hydrow, creators of a state-of-the-art home fitness machine, to bring you seven different low-impact exercise ideas.

What is low-impact exercise?

What is low-impact exercise?

In a nutshell, low-impact exercise is any form of physical activity that involves keeping one foot grounded at all times. Always having one foot on the floor means no running or jumping action, reducing pressure on your joints and bones as a result.

Heart rate doesn’t tend to reach its maximum during low-impact exercise, but over the course of a 40 to 60-minute workout, research shows that people can burn a similar amount of calories to higher-impact exercise.

What are the benefits of low-impact exercise?

What are the benefits of low-impact exercise

There are many benefits to low-impact exercise and various reasons why people might prefer it over high-intensity activities. We’ll cover some of the most common benefits below.

For example, low-impact exercise…

  • Places less stress on joints and reduces injury. High-intensity exercises like jogging, jumping, and sprinting can cause joint problems – particularly in the knees, hips, and shins.

Low-impact exercise places much less stress on the body and reduces the risk of injury as a result.

  • Can improve joint pain and boost bone health. In many cases, people find that low-impact exercise actually improves the condition of their joints and offers pain relief. This is because, according to research, exercise helps to improve joint function and flexibility, prevent stiffness, build bone density, and strengthen the surrounding muscles.

As a result, health professionals recommend low-impact exercise as one of the most important remedies for preventing and treating conditions like arthritis and osteoporosis.

  • Is just as beneficial as high-impact exercise. While it’s easy to assume that only high-intensity workouts reap results, research shows that all exercise is beneficial.

For example, studies have revealed that low-impact exercise promotes weight loss just as much as high-impact exercise. It can offer all the same health benefits, including boosted heart health and brain function, and reduced anxiety and depression. Something as simple as a 15-minute walk once a day can make all the difference.

  • May be more sustainable in the long run. Because low-impact workouts tend to be less intense and taxing, some people find this makes them more sustainable in the long run. Having less fear of injuring yourself too can also be a contributing factor.

This is in contrast to high-impact exercises like running and HIIT (high-intensity interval training) that require spurts of energy and end in exhaustion, which can sometimes fill people with dread and increase their chances of falling off of the workout wagon.

7 low-impact exercises you can do at home

There are plenty of different low-impact exercises to try, and the good news is that many of them you can do from the comfort of your own home.

Below are a few options to consider.

1. Rowing


Rowing provides a total-body strength, cardio, and endurance workout. But unlike exercises like running, football, and netball, rowing doesn’t involve any high-impact movements – nor does it require extreme mobility. This makes it a suitable option for anyone with joint concerns.

If you’ve experienced back strain from rowing before, checking your form can help to prevent this. Some top tips for maintaining good form include driving with your legs instead of pulling with your arms and engaging your core.

If you’d like to get into rowing but haven’t come across a machine that’s piqued your interest, then a Hydrow machine might be just what you’re looking for.

Hydrow completely revolutionised the rowing machine by using patented technology to make you feel as though you’re out on the water. With a touchscreen display and immersive front-facing speakers, Hydrow brings the sounds and scenery of a river to your living room for the ultimate rowing experience.

Interested in an immersive rowing experience at home?

2. Yoga


Depending on the style and pace, yoga can get your heart rate up with very little strain on your joints. Even the more intense forms of yoga – which are most likely to leave you feeling a little sweaty, such as Vinyasa – remain low-impact.

Not only is yoga good for helping people avoid injury, but research shows that it can also help to improve specific body aches and pains. For example, recent studies have found that yoga can improve symptoms of fibromyalgia (a long-term condition that causes pain all over the body) and help to slow the progression of rheumatoid arthritis.

Other benefits of yoga include its ability to help lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels, increase strength and flexibility, lower stress, and boost mood.

There are various types of yoga, but all work towards the same outcome. You can find out more about the benefits and how to get started at home in our introduction to yoga. You might also be interested in Hydrow’s range of On the Mat online yoga workouts aimed at improving mobility, flexibility, and strength. With new workouts added to the on-demand library every week, the Hydrow team will help to keep you active and engaged.

3. Step aerobics

Step aerobics

Step aerobics is centered around simple movements that involve stepping up onto a small platform one leg at a time, before returning to the starting position.

We all know how tackling a large flight of stairs can get our blood pumping, and the repeated ‘step-up’ exercises in step aerobics offer the same challenge. The moves target your legs, core, and upper body and can improve cardiovascular fitness, coordination, balance, and agility.

Step aerobics is recommended as a low-impact exercise for people with osteoporosis or osteopenia to improve bone strength. Experts recommend holding onto the back of a chair or other stable object for added balance, and avoiding any workouts that involve jumping.

All you need to get going with step aerobics at home is some kind of step or platform to perform the exercises on. You can browse these on Amazon.

Then, for an idea of what to expect from a step aerobics home workout, check out the video below.

4. Ballroom dancing

Ballroom dancing

Dancing is good for the soul, and ballroom dancing – which has been around for years – remains extremely popular today. Not only can dancing help you release stress and boost mood, it also offers a great workout. In fact, science estimates that 30 minutes of dance burns 200-400 calories – which is roughly the same as you would burn cycling or running for the same amount of time.

That being said, whether or not ballroom dancing remains low-impact rests entirely on which dances you decide to perform. For example, if you’re planning to jive or quickstep your way around a room, the jumping and kicking elements of these dances will quickly make it a higher-impact exercise.

Slower dances such as the Waltz, Rumba, and Foxtrot, on the other hand, are gentler on joints and considered low-impact. Ballroom dancing is great fun, whether alone or with a partner – and the good news is that there are plenty of resources to help you get going if you’re just starting out.

You can find out more, including the details of different dances and how you can learn, in our article; An introduction to ballroom dancing.

5. Tai Chi

Tai Chi

You might not expect a martial art to make it on the list of low-impact exercises, though Tai Chi is the exception.

When it first began in China in the 13th century, Tai Chi was taught as a self-defense martial art, but today it’s practised all over the world as a low-impact sport. It involves a series of slow and focused movements performed alongside deep breathing.

Not only is Tai Chi accessible for people suffering from injury or joint pain, research has also shown that practising it can help to improve symptoms. For example, in this study, participants with rheumatoid arthritis found that after practising Tai Chi for 12 weeks, they had less pain, as well as improved mobility and balance.

Another study found that participants with knee osteoarthritis who did an hour of Tai Chi twice a week experienced pain reduction, and saw an improvement in wellbeing and quality of life.

To find out more, you might like to have a read of our beginner’s guide to Tai Chi.

6. Low-impact strength training

Low-impact strength training

Strength training has become increasingly popular in recent years, due to its many health benefits. It’s generally considered low-impact, as long as you don’t incorporate too much weight or push yourself too far.

Because of its ability to help people build muscle mass, strength training has been found to boost longevity, prevent bones from weakening, and reduce the risk of falls.

It can also be done using just your body weight, and movements can be easily modified depending on experience level. For example, beginners might prefer to perform chair squats or wall push-ups instead of regular squats and push-ups.

Alternatively, if you want to up your game a little, equipment such as light dumbbells, kettlebells, and resistance bands can be useful.

You can find out more in our article; The importance of building strength and balance in your 50s and 60s. Or to give it a go, why try one of Hydrow’s On the Mat online strength and mobility workouts?

7. Pilates


Pilates is a full-body exercise that works to improve posture, flexibility, and muscle strength (particularly around your core). The slow, gentle movements involved in pilates make it highly accessible and suitable for all ages, abilities, and fitness levels.

Many people think Pilates is similar to yoga, but the two activities are actually very different. At a very basic level, yoga typically involves holding a single position or flowing into another, while Pilates requires you to hold a position and then challenge your core by moving your arms and legs.

Pilates comes highly recommended for anyone who suffers from posture-related back pain, repetitive strain or sports injuries, and stress – and its results have been found to benefit everyday life too. For example, this study found that participants who practised pilates for one hour three times a week over a period of eight weeks improved their stability, balance, and mobility.

While some pilates sessions include equipment, you don’t need to have any to take part. You can get started using just your body weight. For more information on the benefits of pilates and how to start, you might want to check out our introduction to pilates. Hydrow also has a range of On the Mat online Pilates workouts that you can try.

Final thoughts…

Low-impact exercise can help us stay active without putting our bones and joints at risk. The best news is that you can still enjoy all the same benefits as high-impact exercise, and you may even find it to be more sustainable in the long run.

So why not find a form of low-impact exercise that you love today?

For more tips and inspiration, head over to the fitness and exercise section of our website. You’ll find everything from creative ways to increase your step count to our beginner’s guide to joining the gym.