Just because the words “low intensity” are associated with a workout does not necessarily mean it is a waste of time. While this used to be a stigma, over the last several years I have felt a shift in the fitness pendulum. More and more articles and studies show workouts that are on the less impactful side to be just as beneficial as those where you are pushing your body to its limit.
Personally I used to always think that if I didn’t leave the gym drenched (leading myself to even dress in layers on layers at times) then my workout didn’t count. Throughout the last several months I have come to learn through trial and error and tracking with my Apple iWatch that I don’t always have to look like I just got out of the shower to have a successful gym session. This has also created less pressure when it comes to heading out for the gym. Typically on those days where I just didn’t feel like I “had it in me” (i.e. to go all out) I would use it as an excuse to just not go because why waste my time, right? But in coming to realize low intensity workouts do hold a place in your regimen on “those” days I remind myself something is better than nothing.
Top Picks for Low Intensity Cardio Workouts:
- Treadmill Incline Intervals
- Elliptical Resistance Intervals
- Stationary Bike RPM Intervals
- SlowFlo Yoga
Treadmill Incline Intervals
Not feeling a jog or sprint? That’s a okay. Hop on the treadmill and press the up arrow on your incline! Walking on an incline has multiple health benefits such as weight loss, improved aerobic capacity and leg strengthening. By adding a significant incline (this can be even just 4-5%) you will increase the calories burnt during your session. Raising your heart rate helps to improve cardiovascular fitness, but you don’t have to be sprinting to do so. The incline itself increases the workload on your body thus raising your HR. Lastly, the incline activates muscles such your as calves, hamstrings and glutes.
Want to kick it up a notch? Vary the incline at which you are walking throughout the duration of your workout. I tend to just make up it up as I go and with how I am feeling, but there are many workouts available at your fingers tips with a simple Google search. Whether you are creating your own or following a guide the key is to go from lower to higher back to lower percentages every couple minutes never letting your body get comfortable at one level. Below is an example of a treadmill incline workout found on Google.
Elliptical Resistance Intervals
Looking for something with even lighter impact? The elliptical is a good choice. Workouts here are easier on your joints than that of walking or running on the treadmill. They also typically burn just around the same amount of calories. Another cool fact about ellipticals is that they (well most) peddle in reverse allowing your to work your calf and hamstring muscles a little more then when peddling forward!
Much like that of the treadmill another way to ramp up this workout is creating higher resistance. Again I tend to just play as I peddle away, but Google is yet again there to save the day if you need some direction. Below is an example of an elliptical resistance interval workout found on Google.
Stationary Bike RPM Intervals
I can’t speak much to the stationary bike as I don’t have much experience using one, but while I was researching for this post I think the tables may turn! Riding the stationary bike is said to be an efficient way to burn calories and body fat while also strengthening your heart, lungs and muscles. Below is a stationary bike RPM interval workout found on my good friend Heather’s blog, LifeInLeggings.com. I’ll be trying this one out soon myself!
I’ll admit it, I have been one of those people who has written off yoga for years (sorry mom!) because I didn’t think it was a “workout.” I mean I wasn’t sweating, I was actually relaxed and how is that a workout?! A couple months ago my friend Abby became a certified yoga instructor at Red Lotus Yoga and my mom, who has been trying to get me to do yoga with her for a while now, used this as a tactic to get me to go knowing I wouldn’t say no to supporting Abby. And let me tell you, it certainly was a workout. SlowFlo was a little different in the sense that it was not hot yoga per se, but the room was on the warmer side. Guys, I even left a little sweaty! However, the workout was the practice itself and after my first session I was excited to do more.
While it’s not always easy to get to a scheduled class there are several yoga apps to download in your respective App Store. If you haven’t given yoga a try because you were thinking the same way as I used to, I highly suggest you do. Below are my tracked results with my iWatch from my first SlowFlo class if my words alone haven’t convinced you!
I’m just starting to experiment into lower intensity workouts and so far I’m enjoying the change up here and there. I can’t wait delve even further and continue to learn more. What do you do for lower impact workouts??