8 Best Low-Impact Cardio Workouts

You see, like a high-impact workout, low-impact cardio also strengthens and improves your respiratory and cardio fitness. That’s because low impact doesn’t mean low intensity, says German. What makes low-impact cardio different from high-impact cardio is that it applies less stress to your joints, she explains.

Low Impact Cardio Options That Are Still High Intensity

1. Stationary Bikes

Of the 10 best calorie-burning exercises, riding a steady state stationary bike is number seven, which is not bad considering most of the workouts above it on the list are high-impact. You can burn 498–738 calories/hour when you’re pedaling at a vigorous pace.

2. Cycling intervals

By adding high-intensity intervals to a steady state or low-intensity stationary bike workout, you’ll turn it into an anaerobic exercise, which means you’ll continue burning calories at an elevated rate even after you stop pedaling. You could burn an average of 568–841 calories/hour.

3. Rowing

A high-intensity rowing workout is a low-impact way to rev your heart rate big time. But even a steady-state basic rowing machine workout will get you gains. (It’s also one of the best cardio workouts for burning calories.) You can burn 481–713 calories/hour by keeping your stroke rate at 150 watts, which the machine can help you keep tabs on, FYI.

4. Strength Training

Resistance training (think: lifting weights, battle ropes, and mountain climbers) can double as low-impact cardio too—really.

5. Climbing stairs

6. Hiking

7. Aqua aerobics

8. Swimming

There’s a reason people refer to swimming as running in water. “It will definitely have your heart rate going,” says German. For example, a 160-pound person could burn 423 calories per hour swimming at a low to moderate pace—more if they opted for a faster stroke rate, according to the Mayo Clinic.

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