Ever wondered whether low-impact workouts are effective? 

We’ve all heard the motto “no pain, no gain” in relation to exercise. It makes us think a harder workout means a greater reward. However, that isn’t necessarily true.  

Keep reading to learn more. 

Low-Impact Workouts vs. High-Impact Workouts

Sore muscles a day or two after exercise may leave you feeling like you had a great workout.  

DOMS, or delayed onset muscle soreness, is usually felt 24 to 72 hours after strenuous exercise. It’s caused by exercise-induced microtrauma or ruptures of the muscles.  

That said, DOMS can also make you feel like you overdid it. 

So, does high-impact exercise really mean you had the best workout? Or are low-impact workouts just as effective? 

Low-impact workouts can be effective for a variety of goals, including improving cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, and balance. It also provides many of the same benefits as high-impact exercise, but with a lower risk of injury and pain.

What is Low-Impact Exercise?

With low-impact exercise, one or both feet will always be grounded for standing exercises (e.g., squats and glute bridges). Swimming and riding a stationary bike are also low-impact because there is minimal stress put on the joints.   

Low-impact workouts can help to improve cardiovascular fitness, strengthen muscles, and increase flexibility and range of motion.  

A recent study found that low-impact exercise improves flexibility, balance, muscle strength, and depressive symptoms in older adults(1). Additionally, it lowers the risk of injury and creates a sustainable exercise routine. 

Some low-impact exercises to try include walking, swimming, cycling, yoga, and strength training. They are beneficial for people who want to improve their physical fitness and overall health.  

For individuals who are unable to participate in high-impact activities due to physical limitations, low-impact workouts are a great alternative. One study concluded that low-impact aerobic and strength training improved aerobic fitness and muscle strength over high-impact exercises(2). 

It’s important to keep in mind that the effectiveness of a workout depends on several factors. These include the intensity and duration of the activity, as well as an individual’s age, fitness level, and specific goals.  

Make sure that you are engaging in activities that are safe and appropriate for your fitness level. If you have any concerns, consult with a healthcare professional before beginning a fitness program.


(1) Tse AC, Wong TW, Lee PH. Effect of Low-intensity Exercise on Physical and Cognitive Health in Older Adults: a Systematic Review. Sports Med Open. 2015;1(1):37. doi: 10.1186/s40798-015-0034-8. Epub 2015 Oct 20. PMID: 26512340; PMCID: PMC4612316.

(2) Said M, Lamya N, Olfa N, Hamda M. Effects of high-impact aerobics vs. low-impact aerobics and strength training in overweight and obese women. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2017 Mar;57(3):278-288. doi: 10.23736/S0022-4707.16.05857-X. Epub 2015 Nov 26. PMID: 26609965.

Want to get moving, but not sure where to start?

Starting an exercise routine doesn't have to be stressful or exhausting. Feel and move your best with indi's Physical Therapist-designed programs that won't leave you worn out or injured.

Click the button below to start your free 14-day trial: