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There are benefits to stepping away from the “no pain, no gain” approach. Pushing that hard isn’t always safe, and it isn’t necessary for health benefits. And people worn out from a grueling gym session are more likely to skip the next workout. So it can help with consistency, which is important.
Low-intensity motion offers a good workout for most people, helping your heart and burning calories while being easier on the body. The chances of you keeping up a low-intensity routine are higher, since you won’t feel as tired as if you did a high-intensity training, says the Cleveland Clinic. And less strain on your body means you can do it more often, even every day.
Low intensity movement is low-impact exercise done at a more comfortable pace. Many people favor walking, but other low intensity activities include:
Some kinds of low-intensity exercise, like tai chi and yoga, have also been shown to help improve mood and lower stress. That kind of movement helps the heart and may also lessen pain and tiredness.
Low-intensity exercise is also low-impact. So it avoids stress on the joints while still having the benefits that come from deeper breathing and matching movements, says Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. It may take longer to see results with low-intensity exercise compared to high-intensity. But it is also easier on your body and reduces the chances of getting hurt.
Not all low-impact exercise is low-intensity, though. Low impact, high-intensity cardio exercise works the heart at a higher rate while still avoiding joint stress. Exercise that is both low-intensity and low impact further protects from injury. Sometimes athletes use low impact, low intensity activity to prepare for times of more intense movement in a way that reduces their risk for injury.
Try low-intensity movement for:
First look at your current fitness level and see if you need to add to your activity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says adults need routine aerobic activity and muscle strengthening. Aim for at least 150 minutes of exercise a week (more is better). You can break that up into smaller periods of activity throughout the week.
Then find some low intensity activities that sound good to you. Most low intensity activities are safe for most people. If you have health issues or are new to exercising, talk to your doctor before starting a new workout.
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