The Best Low Impact Exercises To Lose Weight

Low-impact exercises are a popular way to exercise, especially for older adults. And just because you’re not running a marathon or lifting 50lb dumbbells like you would with higher impact exercises, doesn’t mean you can’t shed some pounds. Here’s a look at the best low impact exercises to lose weight and start feeling your best.

Exercises To Lose Weight

What Are Low Impact Exercises?

Low-impact exercises are activities that don’t put a lot of stress or pressure on your joints. For example, walking, yoga, swimming, cycling, and using the elliptical are considered lower impact exercises. The good news is, at the right intensity, they still burn calories and build muscle, making them ideal for weight loss. 

Unlike high-impact exercises (like running), you aren’t pounding your feet against the ground during low-impact exercises. In fact, you will always have at least one foot on the ground at all times throughout the entire workout. This is extremely appealing for those with a high fall risk or painful joint conditions, such as arthritis. These exercises are also ideal for anyone just starting to work out or recovering from an injury.

Exercising helps you lose weight because it gets your body up and moving. Low-impact exercises usually aren’t as intense as high-impact exercises, but there is a tradeoff. Yes, you burn fewer calories per minute, but you’re able to keep up with the exercise for longer. You’re also able to work out pain-free, or at least with less pain, and with a lower risk of inflammation. Plus, you’re far more likely to stick with an exercise program that you’re comfortable doing. Because, let’s face it, nobody looks forward to being workouts that make you feel miserable.

The Best Low Impact Exercises To Lose Weight

The key to losing weight with lower impact exercises is to focus on the intensity and length of the workout. You want to aim to push yourself so you burn calories without increasing the impact on your joints.


Walking can be an effective way to lose weight, if done correctly. For example, taking a brisk walk can burn between 200-300 calories per hour. Not to mention, it can also improve your heart health and overall fitness at the same time. Your goal should be to maintain a moderate pace throughout your entire workout. A moderate pace is considered a speed where you can comfortably hold a conversation but you’re not able to sing a song.

As you build up your endurance and become more fit, you can start to challenge yourself. Try increasing your pace to a power walk where you’re only able to say a few words at a time before feeling out of breath. Not only will this help you burn more calories during your workout, but you’ll continue burning calories after you’ve finished as well, especially if you mix in higher intensity intervals. Click here to learn even more ways to spice up your walking routine.

Swimming/Water Aerobics

If you’re looking for an activity that makes you stronger and improves your cardio at the same time, then look no further than water aerobics. Aerobic activities in general are some of the best total body workouts you can do. They engage your upper and lower body, as well as your core. When you add in the buoyancy from the water, you’ve got yourself an exercise that targets and tones your muscles while putting zero pressure on your joints. 

Adding some aquatic activities into your exercise routine is a surefire way to start shedding some pounds. You can burn around 400 calories during a 1 hour water aerobics class. Likewise, swimming laps at a light to moderate speed can burn close to 420 calories per hour. The best part is that you can easily find a pool to use all year round, regardless of the weather. 


Whether you’re indoors or out, biking is another low-impact exercise that can make you work up a sweat without putting pressure on your joints. The beauty of this exercise is that it allows you to increase the intensity very easily, and in turn, increase your calorie burn. And, of course, biking builds strong calf, hamstring, and quadricep muscles. The stronger the muscles, the more support they’re able to provide to the surrounding joints.

As your legs get stronger and your endurance improves, you can start challenging yourself. Similar to walking, add intervals throughout your ride to really spice things up. Most modern exercise bikes have resistance levels, so start out easy and increase the resistance every minute. For longer rides, start at an easy level, like level 5. After a minute, increase the resistance to level 6. Once another minute has passed, drop the resistance back down to 5, then up to level 7, back down to 5, and so on. Keep switching up your routine so you can continue progressing.

Strength Training

As a whole, strength training is one of the most beneficial types of exercises you can do for your body. They’re often challenging, yet incredibly rewarding. Luckily, not all strength training workouts are created equal. That means there are plenty of strength training exercises that won’t put a bunch of stress on your joints. For example, resistance exercises utilize resistance bands and dumbbells. The same applies for simply using traditional weight lifting machines. Be sure to avoid any movements that involve catching heavy objects or jumping.

If your goal is to lose weight, try isometric exercises that engage specific groups of muscles that don’t require too much movement overall. Planks, for instance, allow you to gain muscle while reducing joint pressure. Adding kettlebells to your workout is another great way to build strength throughout your body. Not to mention, they’re super versatile and can be used during multiple exercises. 


Ellipticals are a gym staple for good reason. You get the same health benefits of running, without the pounding force from your feet repeatedly hitting the ground over and over. As an added bonus, most elliptical machines have handles that you can hold during your sweat session. This gives you the advantage of working your upper and lower body at the same time.

What really sets ellipticals apart from other cardio, like walking, is their ability to tone your glutes and thighs. Studies show that elliptical training is far more effective in firing up your glute muscles, regardless of the speed and stride length. So, you can burn fat while actually enjoying your workout in as little as 30 minutes.

In Summary

Low-impact exercises are a great option if you’re looking to get in shape without putting a lot of stress on your joints. With a variety of activities to choose from, you’re bound to try one that fits your lifestyle. Better yet, finding one you actually enjoy will encourage you to stick with it and even make it part of your workout routine. Now that’s a win-win!

About The Author

Jaime Curl

I've explored many different fields within physical therapy, including acute care and oncology at Troy Beaumont Hospital, elementary through high school levels in the Troy School District, and outpatient physical therapy. As the office manager and marketer, I am able to combine my love for health and exercise science with my people skills, all with a dash of marketing and personal training. My hobbies include spending time with friends and family, baking, crafting, and watching my favorite movies or tv shows.

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