Best Low Impact Cardio Equipment

person running on treadmill

If you are looking for low impact cardio equipment, we can help. A common misconception about cardio workouts is that they have to be fast, intense, and demanding on the body. Thankfully, there are exercises that are low impact and cause less stress to your body while maintaining great health benefits. Read on to find out about the best low impact cardio equipment and how you can benefit from them.

Elliptical Trainer

Also known as a cross-trainer, an elliptical trainer is a machine designed to stimulate the natural gait you assume when running, walking, or climbing stairs. These actions are achieved without putting pressure on your knees, ankles, or hips, by forcing your feet to take an elliptical path of motion (hence the name). The machine has both handles as well as pedals; using both simultaneously provides a well-rounded workout (upper and lower body) that is easy on the joints.

The drawback of this low impact cardio machine is that it does not allow the same level of muscle activation that one gets with jogging or running. Also, other than the back and forth movement of legs and arms anchored by the feet in pedals, there isn’t much variety in terms of movements. 

Recumbent Bike

A recumbent bike looks like a reclined chair with pedals in front of it. By using it, you get the cardio benefits of an upright bike without hunching over the handles. Its seat is rather comfortable with a backrest (sometimes armrest as well) that provides good support if you have back-related problems. Recumbent bike exercises help your knees even more than the upright version. This is because in this it is the machine that is taking on your full body weight instead of your knees and legs. Since the machine is so easy on your muscles, you won’t feel sore after using it. This attribute makes it a perfect choice for days you’re recovering from an injury or weight lifting exercises. It’s particularly useful for obese and elderly people who have constraints pertaining to movement and joints.

If you’re thinking about getting a recumbent bike for your home gym, bear in mind that its comfort features make it an expensive cardio machine. It also takes up much more floor space than an upright bike. Also, the usual recommended time to bike on this machine is about 60 minutes which may get boring for some people, especially those who are used to using a treadmill or stair climber.

Rowing Machine

A rowing machine provides an intense total body workout. It targets abs, lats, biceps as well as glutes, calves and quads. The best part is that there is little pressure on the ankles and knees, keeping it low impact. Rowing machines are categorized by the resistance types they offer: water, hydraulic-piston, magnetic and air or flywheel. Out of these options, flywheel and water rowing machines provide a workout that is most similar to actual rowing. The most important thing to achieve on a rowing machine is proper form. If done right, using a rower is rather good for joints. It doesn’t put pressure on the knees but works the muscles around them.

Rowing is an intense calorie-burning exercise and allows you to burn up to 800 calories in an hour. However, people with spine and back problems should avoid this exercise as it puts pressure on your lower back and can cause serious damage if proper technique is not used.

Treadmill

A treadmill is usually not thought of as low impact. But if walking is your preferred workout, then there isn’t a better option than a good treadmill. The machine offers a lower impact experience than running outdoors. The better treadmills have a spring in the belt which reduces the pounding effect you get from running outside and makes it far softer than the ground. It’s ideal for runners wanting to start training after an injury as they don’t have to resort to the high impact of running outdoors. Just keep your speed down and intensity steady to enjoy the brisk walk on the treadmill. The long handles that enclose the walker make the machine further safe and secure, although for a more effective workout it is advised to only use them when getting on or off the machine.

Another viewpoint is that since walking outside is a low impact activity, using a treadmill for the same purpose, whether at a gym or at home, is a waste of time and money. If you have a severe health condition or are suffering from a bad knee or ankle joint-related problem, then you must avoid the use of a treadmill. It is a rather expensive purchase for a home gym and requires some space.

Final Word

Low impact exercises put less stress on your joints and muscles. Now you know what types of low impact exercise equipment are available so you can opt to use these for your cardio routine. You’ll still burn lots of calories and this type of fitness is great for your health.