7 Low Impact Cardio Exercises for Creaky Joints

Hopefully, you are well aware of the significance of regular cardio exercise. “Cardio is crucial to preserving your heart health,” adds Jennifer Novak, a certified strength and conditioning consultant, performance recovery guide, and developer of PEAK Symmetry Performance Strategies. Regular low-impact cardio exercise, combined with resistance training, can help lower your risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, as well as prevent weight gain, according to the CDC.

The 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise recommended each week may be difficult, however, for some persons to complete joint distress and pain. According to Novak, “the effect of ground reaction forces caused by sports like running, on- or off-road cycling, and high-impact land aerobic exercise may exacerbate [joint] tissue and induce inflammation and/or pain.”

If traditional cardio causes joint discomfort or inflammation, consider including low-impact exercises into your regimen.

The finest joint-friendly aerobic activities to try are listed below.


Low Impact Cardio

You’ll get a wonderful cardio (and resistance) workout without damaging your joints whether you swim laps, take a water aerobics class, or use an underwater treadmill. “Any [workout] in the water is advantageous because the water absorbs some of your body weight, while drag forces add difficulty,” Novak explains.

Swimming has even been shown to aid with existing joint pain and stiffness, according to research. Swimming 45 minutes three times a week for three months helped persons with osteoarthritis (OA) reduce joint stiffness and pain, according to a 2016 study published in The Journal of Rheumatology.

Stationary Cycling

Low Impact Cardio

It was also found to be just as useful to cycle 45 minutes three times a week as it was in the same trial to lessen OA-related joint tension and discomfort. In addition, a 30-minute moderate-intensity session on a stationary bike will burn between 210–311 calories. Consider enrolling in a group cycling class if peddling on a stationary bike sounds tedious.

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Stand-Up Paddleboarding

Low Impact Cardio

If you live near water, stand-up paddleboarding (commonly known as SUP) is a wonderful cardio choice. “Paddleboarding includes strong upper extreme work, which could lead the cardiovascular rates to increase more quickly and stay longer,” explains Novak. SUP also improves core strength, balance, and coordination.

One exception, according to Novak, if long periods of standing irritate your back or hips, paddleboarding may not be a good fit for you.

Heavy bag boxing

Low Impact Cardio

“Heavy bag boxing is a terrific method to raise your heart rate while also toning and strengthening your arms,” explains Novak. “If done with coaching, it may also aid with coordination, upper-body power and strength, and response time.”

Look for boxing clubs in your region and ask the instructor if the courses are suitable for those with joint pain and stiffness.


Low Impact Cardio

Excellent cardiac workouts without joint pain are provided indoor or outside. Moreover, Harvard Health says you can burn 255–377 calories within 30 minutes if you continue to make a strong effort. This is more than you would have burnt if you ran at 5 miles per hour for the same period (12 minutes per mile). In just six weeks, visually impaired adults who rowed five days a week were able to lose fat and gain fitness, according to research published in Annals of Rehabilitation Medicine.

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Low Impact Cardio

Kayaking, like stand-up paddleboarding, requires a lot of upper-body effort, and your heart rate will most likely stay raised throughout your session. Kayaking, like SUP, has a caveat: if long periods of sitting create back or hip pain, it may not be a good fit for you, according to Novak.


Low Impact Cardio


The elliptical system is a popular gymnastics machine, as low-impact cardio training is available which burns many calories. A 30-minute session can burn anywhere from 270 to 400 calories, depending on your speed and weight. That’s the same amount of energy expended as running at 5.2 miles per hour (11.5 minutes per mile) for the same amount of time.