Is High-Impact Cardio Better Than Low-Impact Cardio?

Each type of workout you push yourself through has its pros and cons. That might make you question whether or not different types of cardio workouts, for example, are better than others. Let’s go in more depth about the two types of cardio workouts, and decide once and for all whether one is more beneficial than the other.


High-impact cardio workouts involve exercises where both feet leave the ground at some point while performing them. This includes workouts like running, or dance routines involving jumps and leaps. It’s called high-impact cardio because you end up putting more pressure on certain areas of your body, such as your ankles and knees, when your feet return to the ground. This is good for lower-body strength, as long as you don’t overdo it, which can lead to injury.


Unlike high-impact cardio, low-impact cardio workouts involve exercises in which at least one foot always stays on the ground as you work out. Think cycling, walking or rowing. Low-impact cardio puts less pressure on your muscles and joints, and can serve as a needed change in routine if, for example, you’ve been doing a lot of upper body-focused strength training. Any form of cardio that gets your heart rate up is good for you, so low-impact cardio workouts can still burn calories and keep you in shape on days you decide to do something different.


The short answer: no, not really. Some high-impact exercises can be more intense, which is good for calorie and fat-burning, but looking at the big picture, exercise is exercise. If you are focusing on cardio this week, one type isn’t going to do you any more or less good than the other.

You should always vary your workouts in general to make sure you are strengthening and conditioning your full body over a given period of time. Alternate between low-impact exercises like swimming and cycling and high-impact exercises like running or jumping rope. High-impact cardio will help you burn more calories, but if you’re more concerned about burning off fat, you will want to focus on the intensity of your cardio, not just the level of impact.

Still keep in mind that one type of cardio is better than none, though. As important as it may be to switch things up as often as possible, if you get up early and really don’t feel like going to the gym, promise yourself the workout you really love, even if you just did it yesterday. Keep moving, and you’ll be glad you chose training over sleeping in.



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