For those looking to improve their physical health, cardio is the best place to start. It is important to build a good base of cardiovascular fitness before moving on to other exercises like weight training and intense HIIT classes. Perhaps the easiest way to do this is to step out the door and start walking. All that’s needed is a pair of basic runners and you’re good to go for a jog or walk down to the grocery store for your weekly shop.
However, there are millions of people out there who, for one reason or another, experience pain while walking or running. This can be due to a recent injury or simply old age taking its toll on joints and ligaments. Luckily, most cardio exercises are low impact. This means there isn’t any pounding on pavement or a treadmill.
Have a good understanding of your current health
Your cardio system manages how your heart pumps blood and oxygen around the body. How well your body does this is measured by finding your VO2 max. This measures how much oxygen your body consumes and is best measured in a laboratory setting. Technicians hook you up to a machine that measures how much oxygen you take in and put out, while you run or bike with increasing intensity until you can’t keep going. Some smart devices can give you a good estimate, however, as it is good to know and base your cardio training on so you know how your body is handling it. If this is something you wish to consider before working out, have a chat with your doctor who can help you determine your health, any associated risks and how to track your progress.
Use an elliptical trainer
The elliptical best simulates the movement of running and walking, but without the pounding on your joints. The smooth gliding action is great for getting the heart rate up and toning your legs. They can also be adjusted for resistance and sometimes even height, so different types of workouts are possible on the same machine. Whether you want a high-intensity workout or an easy recovery, an elliptical can do it for you.
The first event of a triathlon is the swim. They do this event first, so the athletes aren’t exhausted after one of the other events and risk drowning. For you, however, this event is a good way to get a full-body workout with cardio. Triathletes are superior cardiovascular athletes, and it’s good to copy what other people are doing to improve yourself, too. Swimming can tone your muscles and give you a good, steady-state workout.
The second event of a triathlon is the bike. While 40, 90, or even 180 kilometres on a bike is too much for most, a stationary bike is another low impact cardio exercise for you to try. They also make a great addition to a home gym or to work into your normal exercise routine. Athletes are often seen using these bikes because they offer great leg strengthening as well as low impact to preserve their joints. There’s a good reason why cyclists are known to have the best cardiovascular fitness.
As with the elliptical, bikes can be adjusted for resistance to bring the heart rate up to different levels depending on how much stress you want to place on your body.
With a little investment into equipment, you can have great low impact cardio machines set up in your own home. Having a pool to swim in might be a stretch for most, but some health centres usually have one on offer. Your local swimming pool is also a good option. Whatever your fitness experience, there are benefits to be had from low-impact cardio. And for those who have joint pains or arthritis, they may be the only way for you to stay active and fit. If you’ve never done cardio regularly before, these low impact exercises would be good to try, even only as a warm-up or cool-down to your main sets. As always, refer to a doctor if you have any concerns before starting a new exercise routine.