Low-impact or high-impact exercise.. Which is best for me?

Exercise is just exercise, right? You move around, burn some calories, lose some weight (hopefully) and get fitter. What’s to know about it? You either like jumping around (high-impact exercise), or you don’t – in which case, low-impact is just your cup of tea. Both are included in the term “cardio,” which means you develop a fit heart and excellent circulation whichever your preference.

But there’s more to choosing the kind of exercise to do than just liking it. Some people are introduced to cardio exercise while they are recovering from injury or in post-surgery rehabilitation. This means you need to be clear about what you’re aiming for.

If you’re just looking to push up your stamina or improve your independence, low-impact exercise is for you. There’s no jarring of your bones and joints. This includes brisk walking, swimming, water aerobics, cycling, yoga, Pilates, tai chi and dancing. You can still achieve high-intensity with low-impact exercise.

Low-impact exercise can take longer to show some benefit. But it exercises your heart, lungs and muscles and improves overall body tone. To achieve a moderate to high intensity workout with low-impact, try hiking up slopes, climbing the stairs or carrying your grocery shopping home instead of in your car boot.

High-impact exercise routines involve you completely off the ground with both feet at some points during the exercises, All jumping, skipping and running routines. You pump your heart rate up much higher from the beginning. You increase your fat-burning with high-impact exercise.

However, high-impact exercise exerts a lot of force on your joints; spine, hips, knees and ankles. Too much of this, and you could suffer splints, stress fractures, ankle twists and sprains. Call us on +(353)-87-295-9662 if you already have any of these. Our friendly physiotherapists will help you recover faster and design a workout that won’t hurt you.

Interestingly, both types of cardio improve bone strength alike.

It’s a good idea to mix it up. Alternate days of high and low impact shield your joints, letting them recover. A low-impact workout done at high intensity also jump-starts your fitness.

Of course, you should avoid high-impact exercise if you’re pregnant, have weak, injured or damaged bones, joint or ligament injuries, or are very overweight. You’d be better off with low-impact, until you’re fitter.

For most benefit from your exercise routine, call us for help choosing a program that’s right for you.

Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS)

DOMS is a scientific term for the temporary muscle pain that occurs within 24 to 72 hours after a vigorous workout. You know – feeling pain in muscles you never knew you had after starting to exercise?

Most exercise scientists feel that this is a natural response to exercise stress. A flabby muscle suffers microscopic tears when suddenly forced into vigorous action. The tears cause inflammation, which leads to the pain that you feel the next day. This heals by minute scarring, without damaging muscle function at all. However, this is different from injury pain due to overuse. If you are injured, call us for advice.

What do you need to do about DOMS? Very little, as it turns out. A day or two of rest in between intense workout sessions allows your muscles to heal naturally.

Walk around, move it gently, do some stretches, try massage. Heat application increases the blood flow, washes away inflammatory chemicals and relaxes the cramped fibers.

Warm-ups might help prevent it the next time around. The good news is that it reduces with each round of exercise, as your body adjusts to your workout routine.

Quick tip

Increase the effectiveness of your exercise routine. Firstly, increase your pace. Secondly, increase the intensity. By constantly varying these, you will keep your muscles guessing and adapting.


You can set yourself up to be sick, or you can choose to stay well.

~ Wayne Dyer

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