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Best Low-Impact Cardio Workout to Prevent Joint Pain

Bookmark This Low-Impact Cardio Workout for When Your Joints Need a Break

Two women doing gymnastics at home
Good news for your joints: a virtual HIIT class nearly isn't the only way to get in a cardio workout at home.

Whether your knees and ankles need a break from the consistent jumping, or you want to spare your downstairs neighbor from yet another set of burpees, this simple (but super effective!) low-impact cardio workout is your solution.

"A low-impact cardio workout may not burn as many calories as a high-impact workout in the same allotted time, however it may save your joints in the future so you can continue to work out," Melissa Chisholm, an NASM-certified personal trainer, explains.

"As with anything, consistency is key, and adding more low-impact workouts to your routine will allow you to stay consistent."

Cycle through this workout curated by Chisholm below — your body will feel the physical challenge in the best possible way.

WARMUP

5 Walk-Out to Hip-Openers

  • Stand tall, inhale arms overhead, and exhale to fold over.
  • Walk out to a high plank — bring the right foot to the outside of the right hand.
  • Rotate torso and bring the right hand up toward the ceiling. Hold for three breaths. Place the hand down, and return the foot back to a plank
  • Repeat on the left side.
  • Step the foot back to plank, and push back into a Downward Dog. Pedal out the feet.
  • Walk hands back to the feet. Slowly roll up to standing and inhale the arms overhead.
  • This completes one rep. Repeat five times.

10 Cat-Cows
10 Squats
10 Alternating Forward Lunges
10 Alternating Reverse Lunges

WORKOUT

Complete all six exercises in order. Repeat for three rounds.

Chisholm suggests setting a timer while completing round one: try to meet or beat your time during the second and third rounds, all while maintaining good form.

Walk-Out to Push-Ups:

  • Start standing folded over and walk hands out to a tall plank.
  • Bend elbows to lower down and push back up to a tall plank position.
  • Walk hands back to feet and roll up to stand.
  • That completes one rep. Repeat for 10 reps.

Squat + Calf Raise:

  • Standing with your feet about hips-distance apart.
  • Lower hips back as though you are sitting into a chair.
  • Come up to stand, lift onto toes, and then lower heels down.
  • That is one rep. Repeat for 10 reps.

Plank Walk:

  • Start in an extended arm plank — with feet wide to create a solid foundation.
  • Lower onto right elbow/forearm, lower onto left elbow/forearm, and then press back up to a tall plank — replacing your right elbow with your right hand, and then your left hand replacing your left elbow.
  • That is one rep. Repeat for 10 reps total — five leading with the right and five leading with the left.

Lateral Lunge to Balance:

  • Starting from a standing position, T your arms out, or lift them out to the side.
  • Step your right leg out wide so that it is as wide as your right hand — but not as wide if you are very tight.
  • Sit back on your right side for a single-sided squat — the left foot remains planted on the ground and left leg remains straight.
  • Push up out of your right foot to come back to balance on your left leg, while lifting the right knee to hip height.
  • Balance for one breath and step back out to the right for 10 reps.
  • Repeat on the left side.

Extended Arm Plank to Bear Plank:

  • Start in an extended arm plank, legs long.
  • Step the right foot in so that your knee is under your right hip, and step left foot in so that your knee is under your hip.
  • Hover knees about 1-2 inches off the ground.
  • Step back to plank leading with the right leg, and then the left.
  • Repeat this for 20 reps total — 10 leading with the right leg and 10 leading with the left leg.

Alternating Reverse Lunge to Arms Overhead:

  • Start standing with both arms straight up overhead so your biceps are by your ears and fingertips up to the ceiling.
  • Step back with the right leg. Lower right knee to hover an inch or so off the ground.
  • As you step back into your lunge, swing arms back behind you.
  • Step up to stand and swing arms up to the starting position.
  • Alternate legs for 20 reps total — 10 each leg.

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Image Source: Getty Images / Westend61
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