If the thought of intense cardio workouts makes you cringe, hear us out: There’s more to cardiovascular exercise—the type that makes you breathe faster and deeper, burns calories, and gets your heart pumping—than running. For those who aren’t a fan of jogging (or want to give their knees a break), low-impact cardio workouts (like our Cardio Burn classes) offer a way to stay fit that’s less jarring on the body.
But low-impact doesn’t mean low-intensity—the workouts, like this 15-minute lower body burn, can work up a sweat. Use this heart rate-boosting routine to tone from head to toe while being kind on your body.
What is Low-Impact Cardio?
At P.volve we believe that a workout shouldn’t leave you feeling broken. That’s why the P.volve Method is rooted in low-impact functional training. All of our classes—including the ones featuring low-impact cardio—sculpt and strengthen without leaving you aching or injured. It’s feel-good, good-for-your fitness.
Low-impact cardio (and low-impact fitness in general) puts less force on the body than higher-impact workouts like running or burpees. Examples of low-impact cardio include swimming, cycling, rowing, and doing exercise moves where one foot generally stays on the ground (so no jumping or other movements that cause you to land heavily on your feet). That’s not to say that high-impact exercise should be skipped, since research shows it can help improve bone density. But for people who have injuries or osteoporosis—or who simply want to be more gentle on their body—low-impact fitness can help them achieve their fitness goals in a joint-friendly way.
But even though this type of exercise results in less impact on your knees, back, hips, and other areas of the body, it can have a significant impact on your health. Low-impact cardio benefits include a reduced risk of heart disease, lowered blood pressure and cholesterol, improved mobility, and a decrease in muscle and joint pain. And it bears repeating: Low-impact and low-intensity shouldn’t be confused! You can go all out with low-impact fitness by adding weights or taking your speed up a notch.
Low-Impact Cardio Workout
This five-move low-impact cardio session will tone, tighten, and deliver a heart-pumping workout—minus the stress on your joints. The exercises take your body through its full range of motion to leave you feeling stronger rather than sore. All you need to get started is a mat and a few optional pieces of workout equipment (light hand weights, an ankle band, and gliders).
Start in a p.sit position (feet hip-distance, slightly hinged at your hips with a soft bend in your knees, and abdominals engaged), then step your right foot back, pitch chest forward, and bring your hands together with elbows bent (light hand weights optional). While pushing through your left heel, pull your right knee in while simultaneously driving elbows down, then quickly tap your right toes back while raising hands to top of hairline.
Repeat for 30 seconds, then switch sides.
Start in a plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders with your legs extended, and body forming a straight line from head to toes. Keeping your core engaged, drive your left knee in toward your right elbow, then immediately step your foot back to start position. As soon as your right foot touches the floor, drive your right knee toward your left elbow, then immediately step foot back to start position.
Repeat this motion, alternating sides quickly, for 30 seconds.
Alternating Toe Taps with W Arms
Start with feet wider than hip-distance, slightly hinged at your hips with a soft bend in your knees, and your elbows bent with hands at shoulder height (ankle band optional). Tap your left foot out to the left while simultaneously reaching your left arm up and overhead to the right. Bring your left foot and left arm back to start position, then tap your right foot out to the right while simultaneously reaching your right arm up and overhead to the left. Bring your right foot and arm back to start position, then tap your left foot out to the left while punching your left arm across your body. Bring your left foot and left arm back to start position, then tap your right foot out to the right while punching your right arm across your body.
Continue this motion (“reach, reach, punch, punch”) for 30-45 seconds.
Stand with feet wider than hip distance and slightly bend at your knees and hinge at your hips so that you’re in a mid-squat position. Staying low, run in place while keeping on your toes.
Continue for 15 to 20 seconds, alternating feet as quickly as you can without losing form.
Oblique Twist and Row
Start on all fours with hands directly under shoulders and knees bent with feet on gliders. Push into the floor with your left hand as you rotate your knees to the right to twist at obliques while driving your right elbow toward the ceiling. Bring your right arm down and push your hand into the floor while rotating knees to the left and simultaneously driving your left elbow toward the ceiling.
Continue this motion, alternating sides, for 30-45 seconds.
Not a member yet? Start your free trial for access to our library of on-demand classes and start working out with us today.