Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Low Impact Cardio Options + WIAW

Thanks for the comments on yesterday's blog post about ellipticals! It seems like most of you are of the mindset that it's not your favorite piece of workout equipment but that it's certainly not going to do any harm and there are ways to use it effectively.

But the elliptical talk got me thinking about low impact cardio options. I think many choose the elliptical because it's a great way to avoid taking a heavy pounding on the knees. If you're in the market for some cardio options that won't be so unkind to your joints, consider some of these:
  • Rowing machine - a fantastic full-body workout and awesome for varying your usual routine
  • Incline walking - one of my favorite ways to work up a sweat! Try this workout or this one for a challenge!
  • Hiking - also great for cross-training for runners and a fantastic way to enjoy the outdoors if your area isn't too cold yet
  • Zumba - I have taken some ridiculously sweaty Zumba classes in my time. Most moves keep the feet moving quickly and work all the big muscle groups, and you can always modify if your instructor suddenly starts jumping around (great chance for a booty shake--no one will judge you)
  • Biking - The most biking I've done in the last decade was on our recent trip to Europe, but I know it's crazy popular right now. Biking outdoors in West LA scares me too much to try it, but I like spin classes and would totally take them if I belonged to a gym.
(Do you like that I'm not even riding the bike? I swear I did, though!)
  • Swimming - I couldn't leave this one off! Swimming is exhausting! It's fantastic for recovering from an injury, toning every inch of your body, and significantly improving your overall health
  • Circuit training - As I mentioned yesterday, circuit training is my favorite type of exercise, and I create new circuits all the time to match whatever muscles I want to work. In the case of low-impact cardio, though, it seems circuit options can feel limited. Well, never fear! I have just the workout for you!

Some notes:

This workout is designed as a sustained cardio workout, low/moderate intensity for at least 20 minutes. Your aim should be for your heart rate to be around 65-85% (I usually aim for more like 70-80%) of max. It's not a HIIT workout, so ideally you wouldn't need much (or any) rest between workouts. A good gauge is to try to keep up a conversation while you work out. If you can't talk, you're working too hard!

To increase the difficulty of the exercises (say, if your heart rate isn't even getting to the 60% range), you should try to move faster (keeping good form) and add your arms where possible. See below for options on adding arms.

And for the exercises:

Modified Burpees: Start standing with feet hip width apart. Squat down to place your hands on the floor and step or jump your legs back to a push up position. Optional: Add a push up. Then walk or jump your feet between your hands and return to standing (low impact: no jump), ideally with your hands overhead to incorporate more muscle groups. Repeat. Try to move quickly but keep good form to get your heart rate to the cardio range.

Squat Punches: Stand with your feet wide and drop into a low squat. Hold the squat while punching with your right fist across your body (punch toward the left). Staying low, quickly switch and punch with your left fist across to to the right. Repeat quickly.

Modified High Knees: Regular high knees require jumping and switching, but to make this move low impact, bring your right knee as high as you can toward your chest (use your core!), then put it down and quickly repeat with your left knee. Repeat quickly without jumping. Pump your arms while switching to make the exercise more difficult. 

Low Step Ups: Just like a regular step up, but use a lower step (the first stair on a staircase is perfect). Quickly step up and down on the stair, alternating legs. Add your arms by raising them over your head during each step (or every other step).

Stepping PliĆ©: Start with feet together or hip-width apart, arms by your side. Step your right leg very wide out to the side, plant it, and squat low while keeping your chest up and bringing your arms overhead (like you would for a jumping jack). Step your right leg back in to its starting position and bring your arms down. Repeat on the other side with the left leg. 

Hope you love it!

And here's my contribution to the WIAW party!

Honestly, today felt like a great eating day, until I got home, got bored and sad that Terry wasn't home, and started eating my way through those feelings. But I'll chalk it up to a tough day and do better tomorrow. 
Breakfast: two scrambled eggs with a splash of milk and some Havarti cheese, a little avocado, and a whole wheat tortilla
Snacks throughout the morning: Ak-Mak crackers (from TJ's) with a little cream cheese as well as an apple with peanut butter (the Ak-Mak-and-cream-cheese thing was seriously phenomenal and I can't wait to eat it again tomorrow)
Lunch: Leftover Greek salad with chicken from dinner with Jenn and Justin last night
Afternoon snack attack: 1/2 bag of M&Ms and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Lara Bar (the latter is unpictured)
Dinner: Quesadilla with my leftover ground turkey, spinach, pepper jack and regular jack cheese, and a whole wheat tortilla, plus avocado and yogurt on the side
Dessert: scoop of vanilla ice cream with chocolate and white chocolate chips
Yeah, I think tomorrow will require some more fruits and veggies. Luckily I have a smoothie in mind for breakfast, so hopefully that'll get me full of the good stuff!
Hope you had a wonderful Wednesday! 

1 comment:

  1. Love, love, love this circuit! Thanks. Hope you got through the emotional eating ok. :/

    We've selected your blog to be part of our Feel Better Community of trusted health bloggers. You can pick up your badge here:

    Thanks, and keep up the great blogging!