When it comes to cardio, you’re spoilt for choice. From yoga to cycling, swimming to burpees, any form of cardio can help your physical fitness. However, the effects of aerobic exercise on your body can vary greatly depending on the type of exercise you do, due to the amount of force exerted on bones and joints during physical activity. Knowing the difference between low-intensity and high-intensity exercise is critical for healing injuries and achieving specific training goals. Talk to our experts for more information on staying happy and healthy.
High-intensity exercise is very beneficial to the cardiovascular system. Although, as the name suggests, high-intensity exercise has a strong effect on the joints. High-impact exercises tend to involve a lot of jumping and snatching, often with both feet off the ground at the same time. These movements put a lot of stress on the bones and joints when landing.
A high-intensity workout causes a rapid increase in heart rate, which is a good option for those looking to burn calories efficiently. Studies have shown that high-intensity exercise, such as sprinting, is also good for bone health. It may seem counterintuitive, but stressing your bones can help improve bone density. Physical activity plays a vital role in slowing the natural rate of bone loss that begins after age 35.
While high-intensity exercise has many benefits, there are also some risks. High-impact exercises generate about 2.5 times your body weight, which puts a lot of stress on your joints, ligaments, and tendons. This increases the risk of acute and excessive injury. High-intensity exercise is not suitable for older adults whose bones and joints are naturally more vulnerable, or those with joint problems or arthritis.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have low impact exercise. These movements are less on the joints and gentler on your body. Low-intensity exercise can accommodate all fitness levels, making it suitable for a wide range of people. Any movement that is gentle on the joints or can be done in one smooth motion is considered low impact.
Low-intensity exercise is generally safer and has a lower risk of injury than high-intensity exercise. The gentle nature of low-intensity exercise makes it an excellent choice for training novice as well as injured or recovering athletes. Additionally, many low-impact exercises focus on developing flexibility, which may be beneficial for trainees whose goals focus on balance and stability rather than strength. Finally, low-intensity exercise can serve as an active form of recovery that you can do on your rest days without overworking.
Of course, these exercises usually aren’t as challenging for your fitness, so you will see slower growth in terms of muscle mass and cardiovascular fitness. They also may not benefit your needs as much as high-intensity. If this is the case, speaking to a physio to create a bespoke exercise plan is recommended.