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Low Impact vs High Impact Workout

Updated on July 9, 2009

If you're a calorie counter and want to keep track of how many calories you consume during the day, you may also want to know a bit about how many calories you burn during the day. If you work out, you’re burning an approximate number of calories, and depending on what type workout you choose, you'll burn more or less than the next person. Something that many lay people find confusing (and I am certainly a layperson when it comes to this type of thing myself – I know how to effectively lose weight, but I am no fitness guru) is distinguishing between high and low impact as they relate to physical exertion during a particular fitness regime. Allow me to make it really, really simple for you.

Low Impact

A low impact workout is, basically, any activity during which you never get entirely airborne. Sounds silly, I know, but quickly imagine jumping rope and you’ll get the idea. This means that even if you can speedwalk a mile in 8 minutes, or salsacise your buttocks off in a manner which might qualify you for your own reality dance program, or kickbox yourself into a sweaty mess – you’re still low impacting yourself to better health. And there’s nothing wrong with this at all; I personally get fit much, much faster with low impact workouts than high impact workouts. Seriously; when I compare jogging/running to walking, I stay more fit with the latter. Therefore, do not feel as though a low impact workout is insufficient, because it ain’t.

High Impact

A high impact workout would be (as we’ve already mentioned) jumping rope, running, jogging, jumping jacks and other exercises that get you up in the air. You will certainly breathe harder for your efforts and this may be the type of exercise you prefer. On the other hand, this may not be a viable form of exercise for people with certain types of injuries or other conditions which may be exacerbated by such exercise. If this is the case with you, stick to low impact workouts and intensify them incrementally to get the most out of your exercise time.


And let’s not forget the exercises which are neither low nor high impact: Swimming, cycling, the elliptical machine, etc. As you can see, the terms high impact, low impact and non-impact don’t actually describe how fit you’re going to get. If you’ve ever tried an elliptical machine you know how rigorous it can be – and you can burn about 700 calories per hour on one of them!


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