Low-Impact Cardio Workouts For Beginners

There is no denying the benefits of cardio workouts, but there is also no denying that they are hard work. For beginners, it can be tough...

Low-Impact Cardio Workouts For Beginners

There is no denying the benefits of cardio workouts, but there is also no denying that they are hard work. For beginners, it can be tough to start your cardio journey. What are some low-impact cardio workouts for beginners? 

The best low-impact cardio workouts for beginners include low impact jumping jacks, jog in place jacks, skaters, windmill steps, squat to jab, fingertip to toe jabs, standing oblique crunches, stutter steps, lateral shuffles, swimming, walking, and even yoga. 

Cardio workouts can be intimidating as they require individuals to push themselves past a point of comfortability to raise their heart rate, burn calories, and improve overall heart health. If you are a beginner and looking for low-impact exercises, it may seem like your choices are rather limited, but this could not be further from the truth. Continue reading to see if low-impact workouts are effective and which ones are great for those just beginning. 

Are Low-Impact Workouts Effective? 

When it comes to low-impact cardio exercises, many people may be inclined to believe that it is not nearly as effective as those exercises that are more high-impact. However, low-impact does not mean that you will not be able to burn calories, break a sweat, or get your blood flowing. Take a look below to find out how low-impact cardio exercises can be effective and why they are beneficial. 

Low-Impact Does Not Always Imply Low Intensity 

Low-impact cardio may lead you to think that the intensity level of it is likely next to nothing. However, the point of low-impact exercises is to cause less strain on your joints and lessen the impact on your feet while also giving you the same benefits that other, more strenuous exercises can bring. Even practicing low-intensity workouts, you are completely capable of getting a cardio exercise that increases your heart rate quickly and efficiently. 

Low-Impact Isn’t Only For Beginners 

For this article, we are going to discuss the best low-impact exercises for beginners. However, when it comes to the general use of low-impact exercises, they are not specially reserved for those who are just starting out. Again, remember that low-impact does not imply low-intensity, therefore, they can be great for those at the beginning of their workout journey or for those in a spot where they are advanced. 

You Can’t Lose Weight With Low-Impact Exercises 

There are certainly advantages to those workouts that push your body, however, low-impact exercises are just as capable of aiding in weight loss as any other. Think of exercises like biking, swimming, rowing, and yoga. All of these are considered to be low-impact, but they are very effective when it comes to burning calories. After all, burning calories is exactly what you need to burn fat, and low-impact exercises can do just that. 

Pain is Gain 

This phrase is very popular in the workout world and it implies that a workout should be painful in order for you to build on any sort of progress. When it comes to low-impact workouts, you are going to certainly experience discomfort, but at a level that it does not cause you to grit your teeth in pain. Discomfort is good for pushing your body, but pain does not have to be a component of your workout for it to be effective. 

Best Low-Impact Cardio Workouts For Beginners 

Low-impact workouts are for anyone who wants to put a little less pressure on their feet and joints while also repeating the same benefits that physical exercise offers. For those of you at the very beginning of your cardio journey, you may need a bit of guidance when it comes to setting up a workout routine that will get your heart rate pumping without causing your body any unnecessary pain. 

Low-Impact Jumping Jack 

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A regular jumping jack can be rather tough on your feet and joints, but a low-impact jumping jack still has the ability to accelerate your heart rate. To complete a low-impact jumping jack, start with your hands down at your side as you step your left foot out. At the same time, bring your arms up above your head. Bring your arms down and return to your starting position and complete the same motion with your right foot. 

Jog In Place Jacks 

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For jog in place jacks you will stand with your hands at your side while you complete a high march with your legs. As you bring your legs up, bring your hands over your head in a way that stays consistent with the pace your feet are going. You can either decrease or increase the pace at which your feet are going by either marching or lightly jogging. 


For skaters, you will start in a curtsy lunge position with both legs bent and your right leg behind, across your body. Your left arm will stay straight down with your right arm bent at your side. Push off of your left leg, start to stand, and bring your right left forward as you swing your left leg back and across. You will then switch arms as you complete this action. Try to complete this as quickly as possible, but avoid any type of jumping. 

Windmill Steps 

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For a low-impact windmill step, start in a standing position with your right foot pointed out at 90 degrees and your left leg behind at a 45-degree angle. Pop your hip and straighten your arms as you put your left arm into the air as you move down and touch your right foot with your right hand while you keep looking upward. Change the position of your feet and then repeat the same steps on the opposite side of your body. 

Squat to Jab 

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For the squat to jab, start in a position with your feet just a bit wider than shoulder-width apart as you keep your arms down at your sides. You will then squat down while keeping your chest up, butt back, and your knees out. Once you are positioned correctly, stand up and while your legs are extended, throw a cross-body punch with each arm. You will then go back down into a squat position and repeat the same steps for more reps. 

Fingertip to Toe Jacks 

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To complete fingertip to toe jacks, start in a standing position with your hands to your side. You will then start by slowly lifting your left leg as you reach with your right arm to try and touch your toes. Keep your leg straight without allowing it to bend. To add more complexity, try to speed up your rotation to a degree that you are hurried, but not jumping off of the ground. 

Standing Oblique Crunch 

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For a standing oblique crunch, start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart with your arms bent and placed at the back of your head. You will then bend your torso over to the right side and bring your elbow down as you draw your right knee up so that they touch. Slowly lower your leg back down as you get back into your starting position and complete the same steps with the left side of your body. 

Stutter Step 

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To complete a stutter step that is low-impact, you will stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart. You will then extend one leg back as you raise your arms above your head. Crunch down and bring your left knee up as you bend your arms. The pace for this should be relatively quick, but to make it low impact, either keep your leg at a lower level or decrease the speed at which you perform this exercise. 

Lateral Shuffle 

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For a lateral shuffle, the goal is to make sure that both legs are working equally. To complete this exercise, start in a standing position with your feet shoulder-width apart as your knees are slightly bent with your hips pushed back. You will then shift your weight toward your right as you pick up your right foot and push off from your left. This will propel your body to the right side and then quickly bring your feet back together before going straight over to your left side.


For those of you who are looking for less particular workouts and want something that is a bit more whole, consider getting into swimming. Swimming is known for its ability to burn calories, burn fat, aid in heart health, and even more, is incredibly low-impact. If you were to swim, there are a slew of different strokes you can perform to accommodate beginners and you can then gradually progress to more intensive strokes. 


Walking is a bit underrated when it comes to working out, but for beginners, this can be a great way to get your heart rate up without sacrificing your joints. Now, walking as an exercise should be quick enough that you are breathing a bit heavier and notice that your body is being pushed more than if you were simply walking from your car into work. As you adjust to this, increase your speed to more of a speed walk to burn even more calories. 


Yoga is something that has been around for centuries due to its benefits for not only your physical health, but mental health as well. Advanced yoga may be out of the question for beginners, but there are dozens of different positions that you can implement as you start out that will help teach your body to move in ways that accommodate this type of exercise. As you acclimate to these positions, you can increase the difficulty level to push yourself a bit further.