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Low-impact exercises to help you ease into activity

Low-impact exercises yoga Weight Management Blog

Low-impact exercise, like yoga, can help you to stay fit while protecting your joints.

Have you been thinking about starting to exercise but having a hard time deciding what or how to begin? Low-impact exercises are a great starting point. Designed to best suit those who cannot handle a lot of stress on their joints, low-impact exercises are great for easing back into a routine or for a lighter day of exercise if you’re more experienced.

These exercises can range from walking and swimming/water aerobics, to yoga and light free-weight workouts. When done correctly, they can burn adequate calories, safely elevate the heart rate and create some sweat — something we all look for to show us we’ve actually “worked out.”

Below are ideas from our experts in the Mary Free Bed Weight Management Program to help you get started:

Marching in Place  

  • Stand up nice and tall. Activate your core muscles by “pulling” your belly button into the spine. The goal is to lift your leg to make a 90-degree angle at your knee with your thigh parallel to the ground. It’s OK if you’re not quite there yet – getting your foot off of the ground can be progress!
  • March one leg and opposite arm together, lower, and repeat with opposite leg and arm.
  • Repeat the motion for 30 seconds, completing 4 sets with 60-90 seconds of rest between sets.
  • Want to try a more advanced version? Add a gentle twist. While raising the left leg, twist at the torso to bring the left knee and right elbow together. Repeat on the opposite side and continue this for 30 seconds, completing 4 sets with 60-90 seconds of rest between sets. Make sure your core remains activated and you maintain good posture. Don’t collapse your torso with each twist.

Calf Raises

  • Stand tall and activate your core. Lean forward slightly to transfer your weight onto your toes and raise up, squeezing glutes with each raise. This exercise can be done with a hand on a railing or wall, or holding on to the back of a stable chair for added stability.
  • Repeat for 10-12 raises, completing 4 sets with 60-90 seconds of rest between each set

Step-ups With a Hold

  • This move can be done using the stairs in your home or office. Start by holding onto the wall or railing and stand up tall with core activated. Step up onto step and hold opposite leg up in bent position, similar to the marching exercise above. Hold position for 3 seconds and step back down, taking slow deep breaths to control stability. Repeat on opposite leg.
  • Repeat 10-12 times, completing 4 sets with 60-90 seconds of rest between each set

Wall Push-ups

  • Stand facing the wall, arms extended with palms flat on the wall. Activate your core and maintain good posture with a flat back. Bend at elbows to lower yourself closer to the wall, achieving a 90-degree angle at the elbows. Hold the position briefly and push back to initial position.
  • Repeat 10-12 times, completing 4 sets total with 60-90 seconds of rest between each set

Arm Circles

  • Stand up tall with core activated and extend arms out at shoulder height to form a “T” with your body.
  • Bring shoulder blades down and back, imagining them pinching together. Rotate arms in small circles forward as if drawing the outline of a tennis ball with your fingertips.
  • Repeat for 30 seconds and switch directions to rotate arms back for another 30 seconds

Fingers to Shoulders

  • Stand up tall with core activated and extend arms out at shoulder height to form a “T” with palms facing up.
  • Bend arms at the elbow to flex biceps, bringing your fingers up to touch the top of your shoulder. As you extend back out, concentrate on squeezing your triceps, holding the squeeze for 3 seconds.
  • Repeat the movement for 30 seconds, completing 4 sets with 60-90 seconds of rest between sets

These exercises are just a sampling of what a simple low-impact workout can include. With creativity, most any exercise can be modified to be lower impact. For example, our wall push-up is a user-friendly version of the traditional floor push-up.

As always, please speak with your physician prior to beginning any exercise routine. Not sure where to begin in creating your own low-impact workout? Need a little extra support and motivation? Our exercise physiologist can help you find a routine that meets your ability, lifestyle and interest. Call 616.840.8908.

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