Low impact activities for a well-rounded exercise routine

Man doing yoga

Getting enough exercise is important for your health and wellbeing. But it’s important to consider the type of exercise you do to reach your physical activity goals. Exercises that exert an impact on your bones such as running and jumping are needed to help strengthen them. But can also put strain on other parts of your musculoskeletal system, such as your joints. Getting a balance of high and low impact activities in your weekly activity routine is ideal. As a Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist here at Bupa, I’d like to share with you some low impact activities you can build into your weekly activity routine.


Swimming (and other swimming based activities such as aquarobics) are great forms of aerobic activity. They can help you improve your cardiorespiratory fitness and burn excess energy or calories. In fact, swimming front crawl at a pace of 50 yards per minute for 30 minutes, will burn around 240Kcal. These types of activities are also non-weight-bearing, meaning that your body weight is supported while you exercise. As a result, these activities reduce strain on your joints, and are ideal forms of exercise if you already have joint problems. For more of a challenge when you swim, or during aquarobics, try adding some resistance by using paddles or floats.

Senior couple swimming

Pilates and yoga

Pilates and yoga involve a series of different exercises that often use your own body weight to help improve your balance, co-ordination, flexibility and muscle strength. Improving muscle strength can help keep your bones healthy, and help you to improve your posture — reducing your risk of things like back pain. Activities like pilates and yoga are low impact, and can also be adapted to suit your individual ability and needs. If you need to, you can choose your exercises specifically to offload weight from certain joints.

Adult and child practising yoga


Walking can be an enjoyable, convenient and cost effective way of keeping fit and active. Like swimming, walking is an aerobic activity which helps improve your cardiorespiratory fitness and burn excess calories. A brisk walk at 6.4km per hour counts as moderate intensity exercise, and can help you reach your weekly activity goals. Walking does however exert a level of impact on your joints. But it’s often lower than other activities like running. If you’re thinking of walking more, make sure you wear suitable shoes that hold your feet securely, and support your ankles and the soles of your feet. Where you can, you should also stick to walking on soft surfaces (for example, through a park on the grass rather than on hard pavements). Wearing suitable shoes, and walking on softer surfaces can help to offset some of the impact walking exerts on your joints.

Senior couple hiking

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Physiotherapist at Bupa UK

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