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Working Your Way from Low- to High-Impact Exercise

Posted Sep 08 2008 3:46am

Low impact refers to exercise that is done when one foot is always touching the ground, like walking, and high impact refers to exercise where both feet leave the ground at the same time, like running, jumping rope, and plyometrics. There is also no impact exercise, like cycling and exercising on the elliptical machine. All three forms of exercise can provide workouts that pump your heart to its target rate, but it all depends on how often, how long, and how hard you work out. High impact provides a harder workout in less time, but offers the potential for joint injuries. Some people such as pregnant women, very overweight people, and people prone to joint injuries may not be able to engage in high-impact exercise. If you're a beginning exerciser, you may not want to start with high-impact exercise - if you want to end up running a 5k from being a couch potato, it's good to start with walking and work your way up. Also, you just may not find high-impact exercise to be fun.

If you stick with low-impact exercise, a way to ramp up the intensity is to incorporate steeper inclines when walking on the treadmill or outside, do interval training, take up step aerobics, or cross-train with different machines and exercises to give your body a challenge. Most kinds of weight-lifting exercises are also low impact, so these are also good additions to any workout. If you're able to perform high-impact exercise, you can try adding select exercises. If one kind of high-impact exercise doesn't appeal to you, you can try another kind. I'm not very fond of running, but I like incorporating jumps and plyometrics with the step into my workouts. What really matters is just exercising and getting in shape.

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