If you've been exercising for a long time, your workouts have probably changed over the years. In our teens and 20s, we don't think twice about high intensity, high impact workouts. However, hitting the 30s, 40s and up, many of us find that all that pounding isn't so comfortable anymore. The problem is, we often feel like we have to sacrifice intensity if we switch to low impact exercise.
There's no question that high impact activities like running, jumping rope, etc. get the heart rate up but, low impact doesn't have to mean low intensity. The key is to choose exercises that involve the entire body. When you involve the upper and lower body (as in the squat and swing exercise below) or when you take the body from standing, down to the floor and back up again (as in the bear crawls below), your heart rate rises without having to jump at all.
You'll find three of my favorite low impact, high intensity exercise below and, as always, feel free to share your own experiences. How do you keep the intensity high when you have to keep the impact low?
Single Arm Squat and Swing
Hold a heavy weight and squat low, swinging the weight between the knees. Stand up, swinging the weight up overhead. Repeat for 30-60 seconds on each side.
Squat and walk your hands out until you're in a plank position. Do a pushup on the knees or toes and then walk the hands back to a squat and stand up. Repeat for 60 seconds.
Note: If you've never tried kettlebells, familiarize yourself with the basics or do this exercise with a dumbbell. Hold a kettlebell in both hands with legs hip-width apart. Squat, swinging the weight between the legs and shifting the weight into the heels. Keep the torso upright and the abs braced. At the bottom of the movement thrust through the hips, using the power of your lower body to bring the weight up to about chest level. Lower and repeat for 10-20 reps.
You can find more examples of high intensity, low impact moves in this Whole Body Circuit.