Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Fitness Tuesday: Low Impact vs High Impact Exercises

Since I came to the disappointing realization that my knee will not be able to handle long distance running, I had to regroup and change up my exercise program.  The goal of running 1 mile by December is not very realistic.  I am a huge advocate in not telling yourself that you can't, but I might end up injuring myself if I keep pushing myself to run right now.  The last thing that I need is to set myself back physically, when I finally have a handle on my weight and am changing my lifestyle.  A major injury could put all physical activity on hold...

So instead of making excuses about why I can't 'exercise,' I am going to have to change things up to accommodate my current handicap.

I know that I am not alone here.  Bad knees are common... not to mention being over-weight... that sure doesn't help!  The goal is to begin some exercises that are easy on the knees/joints and still burn the calories your body needs to lose weight.  So maybe I can give you suggestions that you can do, and if you have any suggestions, then please email me!  I'll even post them on the next Fitness Tuesday.

High Impact Exercise 

Consist of exercises that cause both feet to leave the ground at the same time, or cause a higher amount of strain on the joints.  Some of these include, running, jumping, some aerobic classes, and some dance classes.  According to the article Low Impact vs High Impact Exercises: Which is Right for You?, the way you determine if high impact exercise is good for you is by assessing your physical status.  Do you have a strong "baseline" of fitness?  Meaning, are you at low risk of having joint problems?  Then high impact just might be the best thing for you.  The benefits of high impact exercises is that they burn more calories than low impact exercises.

Low Impact Exercise
Consist of exercises where at least one foot is in contact with the ground at all times.  They will not be as hard on the joints.  A few examples of these are walking, some aerobics, some aerobic dance classes, hiking, elliptical, and rollerblading.  I suppose the way to tell if these exercises are the best choice for you is to determine first if High impact exercises are too much for you.  If so, then move down to the next level of low impact, and go from there.

No Impact Exercise
Consist of exercises that support the body.  Examples are, cycling, swimming, water aerobics.  After any surgery for your hips and knees, you are most likely going to be instructed to swim and cycle to strengthen your muscles again.  Spinning classes are a great way to get a major calorie burn without feeling the pain like from running.  Swimming is the same way.  If you get in a pool to swim laps, it will definitely get your heart rate up.  How do you know if no impact exercise is right for you?  Do you have pain and joint problems even when doing low impact exercises?

For me, walking and hiking cause my knee to swell.  I don't necessarily have pain with these two forms of exercise, but if I do too much, then I do experience swelling pain.  High impact exercises clearly are not easy on my knee.  I found that out the hard way after three weeks of running, my knee finally said, "No more!"  The best exercise for me is going to be low to no impact.

I have to say, this realization really disappoints.  For all of my life, I have been a high impact kind of exerciser.  I love running, I love jumping, and playing sports.  It is a large pill to swallow that I should not be doing those things right now.  It is frustrating, because I just want to be where I used to be.  I guess that is the consequence of not listening to my body.

The thing that helps me stay positive is that I don't believe that I will always be a low-no impact exerciser.  I just need to build up the strength in my knee.  I refuse to accept that I cannot do the fun high impact exercises anymore... I am just going to have to practice my patience while I lose weight and get into better shape!

Where do you fit in among these three types of exercise?

Happy losing!

Evelyn Curtis


  1. This is a great post!!! And highly useful for me!! I have damaged my knees to the point that I need the lowest impact exercise as possible. Thanks for the great post!!

  2. Thank you! I am extremely frustrated with my bad knee... so I am learning patience! Thanks for stopping by!


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