Cardiophobes, This Workout Is for You


Urban Outfitters

I've only recently learned to like running—maybe tolerate is the better word. But I still really only pound the pavement when caught in the perfect storm of motivation, and not on many other occasions. It's even rarer that I hit a boot camp–style class. Some people love the feeling of pushing themselves to the absolute brink, but not me: I like to sweat without feeling like I'm dying. High-impact cardio is just not my thing.

But I've learned only recently that it doesn't have to be. For the longest time, I accepted it as a necessary evil of staying in shape, even as trainers and other fitness experts demonstrated otherwise. Then I was sidelined with a sprained ankle last November, and suddenly low-impact exercise was my only option. To be frank, the fact that I wasn't allowed to do intense cardio felt like a silver lining, but I did resign myself to the fact that without it in the picture, it would probably take a while to get back in shape. Once I was able to walk without limping, I doubled down on yoga, Pilates, barre, and rowing…and was admittedly shocked when I realized that my body was bouncing back quickly and easily, no high-impact cardio necessary. I, like many others, had fallen victim to the misconception that "low impact" means "low results."

"Low impact does not mean low intensity," explains Justin Norris, co-founder of L.A.-based LIT Method, a new interval rowing class that combines low-impact cardio with resistance training for an amazing full-body workout. "Low-impact training is not only a very effective method, but it also saves your joints and dramatically reduces the risk of injury," he says.

And because "low-impact" is an umbrella term for any kind of exercise that doesn't involve direct force to the joints and bones, there are plenty of workouts to choose according to your preferences and needs. If you are a fan of cardio, for example, Spin or swimming might be great low-impact options for you. But for the rest of us, we thought we'd count down some low-impact workouts that aren't quite so cardio-focused but still get major results.

Do you have a favorite method of low-impact exercise? Any tips for getting motivated to do high-impact cardio? Sound off below!