Low-impact vs. high-impact exercise — which do you prefer and why? Can you differentiate between the two? When it comes to getting in shape, both workouts are helpful.
But understanding the difference between low-impact and high-impact exercise will help you choose the better workout for achieving your fitness goals. When it comes to striving for your goals, you typically want to go with whatever offers you the most benefits. But it’s also important to consider what is right for you. Be smart and safe with your workouts.
The benefits of low-impact exercise are different from the benefits high-impact exercise brings. We’ll compare these and also share the secret to how you can experience the benefits of both in a single workout. So keep reading!
What Is Low-Impact Exercise?
There is no forceful landing or shock absorption through your joints in low-impact exercise1. It involves physical activities or movements in which one foot is still on the ground. Walking, for instance, is an everyday activity that can double as low-impact exercise. Add the element of incline to your walk to up the intensity level.
While it’s common to think of low-impact exercise as low-intensity, too, this isn't always the case. It’s possible to elevate your heart rate to the same level it reaches during high-impact exercise. It may be more challenging with a low-impact workout, but it is possible. You just have to put in a little extra effort to raise the intensity of your workout.
Other examples of low-impact exercise are cycling, rowing, yoga, hiking, Pilates, and spinning. You can also opt for the elliptical machine or stair climber at the gym. Swimming — technically in the no-impact category — is also a great option for a low-impact workout.
One of the benefits of low-impact exercise is that it allows those with chronic or active injuries to keep their bodies in motion. It’s a safer alternative to high-impact workouts. Below we’ll explore additional benefits of low-impact exercise.
Benefits of Low-Impact Workouts
It may surprise you, but low-impact workouts come with a long list of benefits. Following are a few examples of the benefits of low-impact exercise:
- Provides an easier option for beginners, older adults, or those who are overweight or less experienced
- Reduces impact on the joints decreasing the risk of injury
- Decreases recovery time after workouts (compared to high-impact workouts), allowing you to safely train more often
- Provides a wide variety of options and modalities of exercise
- Accommodates a range of abilities, making it ideal for group fitness
- Burns calories
- Increases heart rate and strengthens the heart and lungs
- Improves your balance and stability
- Fosters better technique and alignment
- Relieves stress
What Is High-Impact Exercise?
When comparing low-impact and high-impact exercise, you can start by thinking of them in the following way. Low-impact exercise equals slower results, but is easier on the body, whereas high-impact exercise equals faster results, but is harder on your body2.
High-impact exercise is movement or physical activity that involves jumping or being airborne. Both feet are off the ground at the same time at some point, followed by a landing3. When your feet land back on the ground, this creates a force, or high impact. Just as walking is an example of low-impact exercise, running is an example of high-impact exercise.
Any activity that involves jumping is high-impact. This includes jumping rope, jumping jacks, and jump squats, for example. Other high-impact exercises include plyometrics, burpees, gymnastics, and CrossFit. Sports such as tennis, racquetball, basketball, and soccer also serve as high-impact workouts.
High-Impact Exercise Benefits
High-impact workouts come with some powerful benefits. This type of exercise helps you:
- Burn calories efficiently
- Increase your muscle strength
- Elevate your heart rate and strengthen your heart and lungs
- Increase your power and speed
- Improve your neuromuscular coordination and reaction time
- Increase your bone density
High-Impact vs. Low-Impact Workouts: Which One Is Better for You?
When considering low-impact vs. high-impact exercise, in terms of benefits — high-impact exercise wins. If you want to achieve optimal results, a high-impact workout is the most efficient route to get there. However, high-impact workouts aren't the best option for everyone.
The choice between low-impact and high-impact exercise will vary from person to person. This means there isn't a straightforward answer to which one is better. Experience, ability, age, and any history of injuries are factors that need to be considered.
Today, most of the popular HIIT (high-intensity interval training) classes are also high-impact. This puts so much unnecessary stress on your joints and muscles. It’s this very reason that high-impact exercise increases the risk of injury. You’re more susceptible to joint pain, stress fractures, and other bone injuries with these types of workouts.
If you are pregnant, have osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, or any chronic joint injuries, high-impact exercise might not be the best fit for you.
On the other hand, if you’re physically healthy and fit, high-impact exercise may be a good option. Typically, you’ll see results faster since the intensity is inherently higher. So if your goal is to lose weight or build muscle quickly, for instance, a high-impact workout is the better choice in this case.
Is Lagree High or Low-Impact Exercise?
Want some great news? A dynamic, full-body workout that is low-impact but high-intensity does exist. With Lagree, you can experience all the benefits of a high-impact workout — minus the actual high-impact itself. Lagree combines high-intensity with low-impact to provide you with a favorable workout.
It’s important to understand the difference between impact and intensity here. The terms high-intensity and high-impact are often confused, but they mean two very different things. In exercise, impact refers to the amount of force that is placed on your body during movements — specifically on your joints and bones. Intensity, instead, is a measure of how much your cardiovascular system is working4.
Once again, leave it to Lagree to revolutionize fitness and offer you the optimal workout. Exercise doesn’t have to be high-impact to be high-intensity. Lagree proves this point with a workout that has a low-impact factor but is also very intense. With Lagree, you get both the low-impact and high-impact exercise benefits.
We believe in working out smarter, not harder. That’s what low-impact, high-intensity exercise is all about. This is the secret to maximizing your workout benefits. And you avoid putting extra stress on your joints, which is a bonus. It’s the ultimate win-win situation.
Luckily, you get to experience this with Lagree. Keep your risk-injury low, but your benefits high — join the Lagree train and hop aboard a Megaformer. Check out one of our Pilates Plus LA studios and sign up for your first Lagree class!