High Impact Exercise Pros and Cons

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When it comes to cardio exercise, there's no shortage of activities to get your heart rate up, from machines to home exercise, from outdoor activities to group fitness classes.

One major thing to consider, when thinking about your cardio workouts, is the impact of your exercises. Impact can have a big...well...impact on how many calories you burn and the impact of your exercises directly affects how strong your bones are.

The Basics of Impact

There are different levels of impact: 

  • No-impact, where your feet don't leave the ground (like swimming or the elliptical trainer)
  • Low-impact, which involves activities where at least one foot is still on the ground (like walking)
  • High-impact, where both feet are off the ground at the same time (like running or plyometrics)

High-impact exercise is one of the most effective ways to burn more calories since it's easier to get your heart rate up when you're jumping around more. High-impact exercise also strengthens the bones. Experts know that subjecting the bones to stress, like high impact activity, causes them to add mass in response.

It's similar in the way that strength training creates more muscle. When you subject your muscles to a resistance they aren't used to, they grow stronger in response.

High-impact exercise isn't for everyone, of course. Not everyone enjoys the jarring nature of things like jogging or jumping rope and, of course, not all joints like that kind of thing either. Still, if you can work some high-impact into at least some of your workouts, you'll likely find you get better weight loss results.


If you're on the fence, there are some good reasons to add some high-impact exercise to your regular workout routine, even if it's just a bit at a time. High-impact exercise:


While there are good things about high-impact exercise, it's not always roses and butterflies. Most people who can't do high-impact exercise know it, but some other concerns include:

  • Too much high-impact exercise without cross-training can lead to overuse injuries.
  • May be painful for people with joint problems or arthritis
  • High-impact moves like running can cause an impact of about 2.5 times your body weight, which could strain joints, ligaments or tendons that are already weak or injured
  • Might be uncomfortable for people who are overweight or obese

High-Impact Exercises to Try

You can always try high impact exercises like running, but you can also avoid the constant impact by adding little bursts of high-intensity exercise to a regular, lower impact routine. Try choosing some of the following moves and adding them periodically throughout your workout:

High-Impact Workouts

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