What Is The Difference Between Low Impact And High Impact Workouts?

In addition to a science-backed diet, regular physical activity is essential for a balanced way of life. Engaging in regular exercise can improve your brain health, maintain a healthy weight, minimize risks of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, strengthen bones and muscles, as well as improve your athletic performance, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Regardless of age, ability, or body shape, anyone can benefit from at least 20 minutes of moderate physical activity every day.


However, physical activity isn't created equal, and different workouts are designed to fit specific health goals. If you go to any fitness center these days, you'll be met with a variety of activities, ranging from yoga to rugby to boxing. While every form of workout helps you get into shape and enhance your stamina, it's useful to know the different types of workouts so you can reap their distinct benefits. According to G&G Fitness, there are two types of workouts: high impact and low impact. Here are the differences between these two types of workouts to help you decide which is best for you.

What is a high impact workout?

The Medical Associates of Northwest Arkansas defines high impact workouts as those that place a greater strain on your joints and feet. Long-distance running is one example, along with hiking, jumping jacks, burpees, and calisthenics. CrossFit, rugby, and tennis are some popular high-intensity training activities. According to Dynamic Physio, high impact exercises — which get your heart pumping fast and your body sweaty — can help you burn more calories. They are also known to increase bone density, enhance limb coordination, and boost the health of your lungs.


That said, high impact workouts are not all roses, especially for those who have pre-existing joint and bone issues. When performed without supervised assistance, high impact workouts can strain joints, ligaments, or tendons, and cause injury. In a nutshell, high impact activities are better for those who want to burn more calories and lose weight in a shorter amount of time, or those who're training for an intense physical competition, like a triathlon.

What is low impact workout?

Compared to high impact workouts, low impact workouts place less force on your body during movement. That means that if running or jumping makes you feel miserable and you want a gentler alternative for your joints, low impact exercises might be more fitting (per the American Sports & Fitness Association). Low impact exercises are better choices for those who are injured, pregnant, or recovering from an injury. Swimming, yoga, cycling, and elliptical cardio are some examples of low impact workouts. While low impact workouts cannot give you visible results as fast as high impact alternatives do, they can still make your heart beat fast and help you release your "feel good" hormones.


"Low-impact doesn't mean low-intensity," fitness expert Sivan Fagan tells Health. If you want to sweat intensely without giving your joints and ligaments extra stress, Fagan recommends building your upper body using an upright rowing machine called SkiErg — a popular cross-training tool for runners. High-intensity interval training (HIIT), which features short stints of intense anaerobic exercise followed by periods of recovery, might also be a viable option. All forms of physical activity work wonders for your health, as long as they don't put undue strain on your body. It's always a good idea to get professional medical advice before beginning a new fitness regimen.