Low Impact Workouts

I know I usually do this at the bottom of my posts, but since it’s the focus of what I’ll be writing about today, I’m putting the rehab updates up here…

Rehab Day 46 (Saturday)

Yoga in the park (1 hr)

Rehab Day 47 (Sunday)

Rest Day

Rehab Day 48 (Monday)

50 minutes Arc Trainer

Rehab Day 49 (Tuesday)

35 minutes PreCor

45 minutes strength training class

Rehab Day 50 (Wednesday)

Yoga with Mark (1 hr)

Let’s talk workouts, shall we?


I am improving SO MUCH. I actually first noticed this on Saturday, when I realized I was holding poses for longer and — wait for it — actually having fun. This morning, Mark and I were both kind of elated as we realized just how much longer I was holding these poses, how much more flexible I’ve become, and how second-nature so much of it has become for me.

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but I was kind of anti-yoga for a long time. It’s been a struggle to convince myself to get into the breathing of it (I’m getting there!), I found it hard to see yoga as an intense workout (boy, was I naive), and I still won’t let Mark bring the “om” in. Really, the only reasons I even gave it a chance are because 1) my roommate is an instructor and 2) my knee/ back issues forced me to consider lower impact workouts.

Thankfully, I really like yoga now. I can even see myself loving it at some point. (Don’t tell Mark. His head will get too big.)

And let’s make one thing clear: low impact does not mean low intensity. Yoga is HARD! Mark seriously kicked my butt in our lesson this morning. I asked for a hard class with a fast flow (essentially cardio yoga) and I loved it — but that didn’t make it any easier to get through!

My kind of workout. 🙂 Who knew?

Oh, and don’t let this serene face fool you. Mark is a sadist.

You should have seen the smile on his face (and heard it in his voice!) as I grunted my way through his intense class.

Cardio Machines

Something really great happened at my gym last week — they completely revamped our cardio room and replaced all of our cardio machines. We now have new versions of everything we had bef0re (treadmills, ellipticals and bikes), which is great — but we also have two new kinds of machines, which is even better!

The Arc Trainer


The PreCor


I’ve actually tried both of these machines before, at my parents’ gym, and I had machine envy. Now, I don’t have to! I’m in love with these machines — especially the PreCor. It moves with you and challenges you. You get to determine how long your stride is, so you can make it really long (almost lunging) or really short (like a stairmaster). For the purposes of strengthening my knees without aggravating them, I stuck with a long stride. I got such a workout on that machine and I felt absolutely no resulting knee pain. Hooray!

I also love how much more variety I’ll be able to get in the cardio room now. This really expands my workout potential!

Strength Training

My Physical Therapist told me recently that she wants me to really work on strengthening all of the muscles around my knees and hips so that I’ll have better stability (and, uh, strength) as I (slowwwwwly) try to get back to my old ways of working out.

I returned to my first strength training class in months yesterday and am happy to report that it went really well — no pain afterward, despite lots and lots of squats and lunges! This only goes to show that what I’ve long suspected the problems have been for me are accurate — not squatting and lunging, but anything high impact.

Which leads me to….

What You’re Not Seeing

  • Running
  • Jumping
  • Boot Camp

After taking two boot camp classes a couple of weeks ago, in which I did my fair share of jogging in place, high knees, and jumping jacks, I found that my knees hurt quite a bit more than they had the previous week. This clearly meant that I re-inflamed them.

So, you know, that was an experiment from which I got a very clear message: I’m not ready to do any of that yet.

Oh, and it’s not in the above rehabilitation recaps, but there’s also…



To be clear, the pool in which I actually swim is nowhere near that pretty. I just thought I’d give us a little swimming pool eye candy.

Speaking of swimming pool eye candy…


Sorry. I digress. (But also… you’re welcome.)

Swimming has been a kind of non-changing thing for me. I think it might be because I’m not all that passionate about it, but I haven’t particularly seen any improvement in my swimming abilities. I’m not getting any faster, that’s for sure. I used to love swimming, but I think I’ve gotten more into sweating than I was when I was a big swimmer.

However, it serves as a great low impact, full body workout, and it’s a great way to switch up my routine.

In terms of how much swimming I’m doing, I never really have much more than 35 minutes to swim, when you take into account the whole getting ready for the pool and changing in the locker room afterward thing. That means I pretty invariably swim 35 laps (1 lap = 2 lengths), which is 1400 yards or 1280 meters. Not bad, I guess, but it’s nothing to brag about!

Neither is this:

You’re welcome, gentlemen. Feel free to line up around the block.

Last but not least…


This isn’t really ever a workout on its own, but I’ve been trying to walk as much as possible lately just to add to my physical activity. I used to spend so much time working out, but I now work out less and sit a lot at work.  So, whenever it’s been possible, the idea of walking places has really appealed to me.  Last night, for instance, I went out to dinner with friends, so I drove home from work first and then walked the mile to the restaurant.

I’m also convinced that walking makes my knees feel better. It gets things moving, you know?

In general, I feel that all of this rehab business is helping me. I’m slowly but steadily improving, and though I’m slow to notice it, I’m always quite cheered by the small signs of progress. My sciatica barely bothers me anymore and — at least when I avoid high impact workouts! — my knees seem to be on the up and up. I’m just glad to be improving while being able to stay physical!

What are some of your favorite low impact workouts?



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21 responses to “Low Impact Workouts

  1. I love, love, love the Precor! It was at our old gym. I miss it! Jealous

    Pool eye candy, yum! Delicious.

  2. Yay! I’m all about the low impact work outs. You’ve named my favorites, swimming, yoga, and walking. If you ever need a low impact buddy, I’m your girl. Maybe when you are further along in your rehab, you can introduce me to the intimidating world of high impact?

  3. I’m all about lower-impact workouts these days – I was trying to do the Couch to 5K program, but was getting terrible shin splints so I’ve backed off of that for the time being. I LOVE the Precor as well! It took a while to get used to a comfortable stride though. I alternate between that, a traditional elliptical, yoga/Pilates, and then I have one high-impact workout a week: boxing (I know, but there’s seriously a surprising amount of jumping around with my particular instructor.) I’m definitely seeing a difference in my yoga too…I’m not quite to LOVING it yet (I still feel kinda silly doing some of the poses but I’ve stopped falling down on a regular basis so that’s good) but I’m getting there!

  4. i’m a fan of riding my beach cruiser when i need low impact stuff!!

  5. This post makes me feel so lazy. 🙂 You are a rockstar! PS. that Pool is gorgeous. Wherever that is, I want to go swim there.

  6. Right now I am LOVING the Core Fusion DVDs-Body Sculpt, Thighs and Glutes, and Pilates Plus are the ones I have. You feel the burn but you’re so peaceful right after. I barely sweat (and I ALWAYS sweat) but yet it works!!! The other night I did a DVD (the Body Sculpt one) and then immediately went to bed. I literally felt like I’d gotten a full body massage and then laid down. It was amazing. I’m in the middle of writing a blog review-but I highly recommend them!

  7. I loooooove yoga. So nice that you have a live in trainer:)

  8. Love the pool eye candy.

  9. We have the PreCors at work, and I really like them too! I’m still on the fence about yoga 😉

  10. Laura @Backstage Balance

    Glad to hear that you’re enjoying yoga more, and rehabbing well (in general)!
    My favorite low impact workout, hands down, is walking. Especially around sunset, it’s my favorite way to relax and unwind, whether I’m home and walking down the trail near our house, or if I’m downtown at work and on the RiverWalk. It helps me to feel present, too.

  11. yay yoga! You gotta get into the OM! Its so freeing (yes I’ve lived in Cali for two years and have turned into a hippie) and SWOON at that Jake pic. mmmm eye candy. Thank you for that one.

  12. Mark

    where did you find that picture of me in my bathing suit?

  13. Great post! As you know I really struggle with the idea of low impact workouts. I actually get into fights with Dan when he is training me if my heart rate goes below 160 – not a great mentality to be stuck in. But time has made me learn to appreciate the simple form of movement in general and not miles covered/calories burned. And cheers to your PT for suggesting lower body muscle development. Lifting made my knee injuries a distant memory as it took me off the cardio machines and built the support system around my joints.

  14. I really need to try this whole yoga thing. Everyone is raving about it! But I’m nervous to go into a class. What if I look stupid? And shouldn’t I be used to that already?

    • You should try the whole yoga thing. If you want to have a minimum-embarrassment class, Mark will teach you with just me (and maybe a few other friends, but it depends on the day) for free. Wanna come?

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