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6 Low-Impact Cardio Exercises

Published February 14, 2019 (Revised: January 03, 2020) Read Time: 5 minutes
Ben Kissam

Written By: Ben Kissam, BS

Ben has a B.S. in Movement and Sports Science and over 7 years Certified Personal Training Experience.

<script type="application/ld+json"> { "@context":"", "@type":"BlogPosting", "author": { "@type": "Person", "name": "Ben Kissam, BS" }, "publisher": { "@type": "Organization", "name": "Warrior Made", "logo": { "@type": "ImageObject", "url": "", "image": "" } }, "headline":"6 Low-Impact Cardio Exercises", "datePublished":"2019-02-14", "dateModified": "2020-01-03", "description":"Try these six low-impact cardio exercises that can be done from your home. They all get your heart rate up without stressing your joints.", "image": "" } </script> <article> <div> <ul> <li><a href="#section1">1. Sit to Stand</a></li> <li><a href="#section2">2. Step Jacks</a></li> <li><a href="#section3">3. Burpee Walkout</a></li> <li><a href="#section4">4. Mountain Climbers</a></li> <li><a href="#section5">5. Sumo Squats</a></li> <li><a href="#section6">6. Split Squats</a></li> <li><a href="#section7">Low Impact Cardio -- Wrap Up</a></li> </ul> </div> <section> <p>Cardio workouts are an essential part of any fitness routine.</p> <p>They make our heart healthy, burn calories, and combined with the <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">right diet</a>, help with weight loss.</p> <p>When you think of cardio exercises, you probably think of the classics: running, biking, rowing, and swimming. All great types of cardio, but the first three put a lot of stress on your joints, and swimming requires a pool.</p> <p>So, what are you supposed to do if you want to do a cardio workout, want to work out at home, and yet have joint pain? </p> <p>These six low-impact cardio exercises will get your heart rate up without stressing your joints.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <section id="section1"> <video class="d-block mx-auto" autoplay="" loop="" muted=""> <source src="" type="video/webm"> <source src="" type="video/mp4"> </video> <h2>1. Sit to Stand</h2> <p>The sit to stand uses the same muscles as a squat. It’s great for beginners or anyone with lower body joint pain. And all you need is a chair.</p> <p>Here’s how to do it: get your feet set up slightly wider than shoulder width apart with your toes pointing out at a forty-five degree angle.</p> <p>With your bodyweight in your heels (not the toes), push your butt back to the chair or target (a stool works, too). Keep your belly and back tight. </p> <p>The key really is to think ‘butt back.’ If your butt doesn’t go back first (which means your hips bend first), you’ll naturally lean forward and bend your knees, placing a lot of stress on the knee joint.</p> <p>Inhale as you go down and hover over your target. Sit back on the chair, then stand up, again driving through your heels. To finish the rep, push your hips through at the top so you are standing up fully.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <section id="section2"> <video class="d-block mx-auto" autoplay loop muted> <source src="" type="video/webm"> <source src="" type="video/mp4"> </video> <h2>2. Step Jacks</h2> <p>Step jacks are the low-impact workout precursor to the jumping jack.</p> <p>The benefit of step jacks is that you learn the form before you add in the jump, which saves you from unnecessary stress on your knees. It’s also a good opportunity to practice.</p> <p>To do a step jack, start with your feet together.</p> <p>You’ll be moving laterally, so start to one side of your mat or workout space. Activating your glutes and pushing off your toes, your body travels to the left (or right) as seen above.</p> <p>Think of it as an exaggerated dance step—to the left, to the right, and so on.</p> <p>Adding the arms, start with your spine straight. An easy way to do this is to make a ‘proud’ chest. </p> <p>Avoid shrugging your shoulders or putting the arms in front of your face. Your arms travel up and overhead and return to your side in rhythm with your feet.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <section id="section3"> <video class="d-block mx-auto" autoplay loop muted> <source src="" type="video/webm"> <source src="" type="video/mp4"> </video> <h2>3. Burpee Walkout</h2> <p>Burpees are perhaps the king of living room cardio and calorie-burning exercises. They are tough, but the burpee walkout helps prepare you for them. </p> <p>A burpee walkout starts and ends in a standing position. In between, you’ll move your body into a plank.</p> <p>Begin in a ‘ready’ stance with your feet shoulder width apart and knees slightly bent. In a ‘ready’ stance, your weight is in your heels and you are balanced. </p> <p>Bring your hands to the floor by hinging at the hips, not squatting (think of picking something up off the ground). </p> <p>With your hands on the ground, keep your shoulders active as you press through your hands and bring one foot, then the other to a plank position. </p> <p>Return each foot to where they started. Push through your hands again, rocking yourself back to a crouch. Stand to finish.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <section id="section4"> <video class="d-block mx-auto" autoplay loop muted> <source src="" type="video/webm"> <source src="" type="video/mp4"> </video> <h2>4. Mountain Climbers</h2> <p>For a good low-impact workout, mountain climbers give burpees a run for their money in terms of the best exercises you can do at home.</p> <p>Here’s how to start doing mountain climbers for cardio at home.</p> <p>Begin in a push-up position. </p> <p>The key to this position is your hands. Keep your shoulders active (externally rotated) and a firm grip on the ground. Imagine you are dragging your hands towards your belly button. This will activate your upper back and shoulder muscles.</p> <p>In your push-up position, drive your right knee to your elbow or as close as possible. Bring that foot back, then bring the left toward your left elbow. </p> <p>Keep repeating that motion.</p> <p>If you’re a beginner, count each rep and breathe in between each step.</p> <p>You can slowly add speed and reps over time. </p> <p>Done correctly, mountain climbers are good cardio and abs exercise. </p> <p>The key is to keep your body in the plank position. Fight to keep your hips from rising (looking like Downward Dog in yoga) or sagging (looking like a lower back stretch).</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <section id="section5"> <video class="d-block mx-auto" autoplay loop muted> <source src="" type="video/webm"> <source src="" type="video/mp4"> </video> <h2>5. Sumo Squats</h2> <p>Sumo squats are great for anyone with tight hips or lower body joint pain.</p> <p>Begin with both feet together, weight in the heels. Like step jacks, you’ll be moving laterally. </p> <p>This time, take a big, exaggerated step, opening the hip and stepping to the left or right. Your knee should be at about waist height. </p> <p>Land in a wide stance squat like the example demonstrates above.</p> <p>On the way up from your squat, bring the opposite foot up to waist height again, taking an exaggerated step back in the direction you came from. Done properly, you’ll stay in the same spot as you started.</p> <p>Keep your torso upright throughout each sumo squat. The ‘proud’ chest ensures your glutes are doing their job.</p> <p>Visualize a sumo wrestler’s first step in the ring. That high, lateral step (almost like you’re stepping over a fence) over and over again is the goal of a sumo squat. </p> <p>For joint safety, avoid letting your knees collapse inward during the squats.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <section id="section6"> <video class="d-block mx-auto" autoplay loop muted> <source src="" type="video/webm"> <source src="" type="video/mp4"> </video> <h2>6. Split Squats</h2> <p>To do a split squat, use the same foot-gripping technique described in the one-leg high knee exercise. However, instead of hinging forward like with the high knee, keep your torso upright and your pelvis even. Only the back toes make contact with the ground.</p> <p>With weight on your front leg, drop your hips to the ground instead of leaning forward (this will take stress off your knee). Your back knee should either gently touch the ground or as close to it as you can get. Just don’t slam your knee. At the bottom of the split squat, exhale as you drive to return to the split stance.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <section id="section7"> <h2>Low Impact Cardio -- Wrap Up</h2> <p>You don’t need a gym, a trainer, or an expensive pair of running shoes to get a great cardio workout. </p> <p>These low-impact cardio exercises are perfect for anyone to try, even if you haven’t worked out in a long time. </p> <p>We encourage you add them to your next workout. </p> <p>And if you liked these exercises, check out our other <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">at-home exercises</a> and <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">workout routines</a>.</p> </section> </article>

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