The Perks of Low-Impact Cardio

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Knees too creaky to run? No problem.

I think we’ve properly established by now that regular cardio exercise is a vital component of a healthy body. A nice, brisk run powers up your heart and lungs, as well as flexes your legs and knees. However, if you have some sort of physical condition, or you’re just getting up there in years, bending and lifting your legs and knees can become much more difficult, or potentially even dangerous. How are you supposed to get your cardio in if you can’t run, though? Easy: try low-impact cardio.

The actual purpose of cardio is just to work your heart and lungs; running is merely the simplest way to do it. Exercise that gets your heart rate and breathing up without piling on the physical strain is what’s known as low-impact cardio. As opposed to high-impact cardio that puts a lot of strain on your knees, such as burpees, box jumps, and so forth, low-impact cardio utilizes short, explosive movements, with a greater emphasis on the upper body. You can still get your heart rate up just fine, even if your lower body isn’t feeling cooperative.

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You can squeeze low-cardio exercise into any regular set, though it may be better suited to sandwiching strength training bouts. If you’re not quite sure if your low-impact cardio is getting your heart rate high enough, try the talk test. If you can sing, you’re not exerting yourself very much. If you can carry on a basic conversation, you’re exerting yourself to a moderate extent. If you can only puff out a few words here and there, you’re going full-throttle.