A safe and productive workout routine is all about balance (we hear crunches pair nicely with Crunch Bars), but a high-intensity regimen is only as effective as it is sustainable. If you love your runs or at-home HIIT workouts, it might be time to swap that three-mile jog for something a little lighter on the joints. “When it comes to exercise, impact refers to the amount of force exerted on your bones and joints during physical activity,” Tracy Carlinsky and Lucy Sexton, co-founders of the digital fitness platform Bonded by the Burn tell us. “Higher-impact exercises put a more intense level of impact on your joints and tend to involve some form of jumping or jolting.” So if you have cranky knees or weak ankles, anything involving explosive, plyometric movement (like jumping jacks) could do more harm than good by causing inflammation or even tearing in the tendons and ligaments. “Low-impact exercises are those that are gentler on the joints or can be performed in a fluid motion,” like walking, cycling, yoga or pilates.

But are lower-impact moves less effective than the high-impact stuff? Not necessarily. They’ll still increase your heart rate and challenge your muscles (just with way less stress on the body). In fact, low-impact training can help target those small stabilizing muscles that surround your joints to help increase your overall strength, flexibility and balance.

What Are the Benefits of Low-Impact Exercises?

Aside from strengthening the muscles around your joints, low-impact exercises can help build core strength and improve posture. They’re also a great option for anyone recovering from an injury, depending on the type of injury and feedback from your doctor. The Bonded by the Burn duo also find it beneficial to mix in a low-impact workout in between higher impact days to add balance to their routine. “This way you get to stay active while still recovering and maximizing your energy output.”

Before trying a new workout, it’s always best to consult a coach, trainer or physician to come up with a plan that works for you, but “the gentle nature of low-impact exercises makes them a great option for those newer to working out,” Carlinsky and Sexton tell us. In fact, anyone can benefit from an isometric workout plan, including those who exercise regularly or hope to move on to more intense activities like HIIT, running or boxing.

12 Low-Impact Exercises You Can Do at Home

Ready to give your joints a break? Here are 12 low-impact moves you can do right at home with just a few pieces of equipment. The exercises—all created and demoed by Carlinsky and Sexton—are specifically designed to isolate your muscles and challenge your endurance. Flow through this routine twice (once on each side of the body) with minimal rest in between to get a full-body workout without a single hop, skip, jump or bounce.

Equipment Suggestions

If you're new to this equipment, most of these moves include exercise modifications that are great for first-timers.

  1. Exercise Mat
  2. Resistance Bands (looped and non-looped)
  3. Gliders

RELATED: 20 Arm Workouts for Women, From Tricep Dips to Preacher Curls

low impact exercises wide stance plank walk
Bonded by the Burn/Mckenzie Cordell

1. Wide Stance Plank Walk

Works your core, obliques, quads, arms and back.

Step 1: Begin in a plank position with each foot on a glider. Lift your hips slightly, so they are in line with your shoulders and press away from the ground evenly through your palms. Keep your shoulders square throughout the exercise.

Step 2: Push the gliders apart and separate your feet until they’re wider than hip-width. Engage your core and quads to maintain straight legs throughout the exercise.

Step 3: Without swaying your hips, pick your right foot up off the glider and step it to meet your left. Hold for 1 to 2 seconds and then switch to the other glider, stepping your left foot out to meet your right. Continue this movement for 30 - 45 seconds.

*Modification: Ditch the gliders and place your feet directly on the ground for additional stability.

low impact exercises running man
Bonded by the Burn/Mckenzie Cordell

2. Running Man

Works your core, obliques, quads, glutes, arms and back.

Step 1: Begin in a plank position with your left foot on a glider.⁣ With your right leg hovering off the ground, pull your right thigh up and in towards your chest. Stack your shoulders over your wrists and ⁣keep your hips in line with your shoulders.⁣

Step 2: Bend your left leg that is on the glider and pull your thigh forward, sliding your foot along the ground, as you simultaneously extend your right lifted leg back. ⁣To reverse the motion, bend and pull your right thigh in towards your chest as you slide your left leg back to return to the starting position.

Step 3: Continue this movement for 45 - 60 seconds. Switch sides and repeat.

*Modification: Place both feet on a single glider and pull and push it slowly using both legs.

low impact exercises gliding mountain climbers
Bonded by the Burn/Mckenzie Cordell

3. Gliding Mountain Climbers

Works your quads, core, arms and back.

Step 1: Begin in a plank position with each foot on a glider. Stack your shoulders over your wrists and keep your hips in line with your shoulders.

Step 2: Pull one leg in toward your chest as your press the other back to build friction between the glider and the floor. Continue this movement for 15 - 30 seconds.

*Modification: Ditch the gliders and do regular mountain climbers instead.

low impact exercises banded kick back
Bonded by the Burn/Mckenzie Cordell

4. Banded Kick Backs

Works your quads, glutes, hamstrings, core and back.

Step 1: Loop a circle band around the front of your right ankle and the arch of your left foot. Begin in a split squat position with your right foot forward and left leg back.

Step 2: Bend your right leg and lower down into a lunge, bringing your thigh almost parallel to the floor. Hinge forward to align your torso over your right thigh while stacking your right knee over your ankle to avoid injury.

Step 3: With tension on the band, step your left foot back to fully straighten your left knee. Hold for a beat. With control, bend your knee and step your left foot forward to return to the starting position. Continue this movement for 45 – 60 seconds. Switch sides and repeat.

*Modification: Skip the circle band or use one with a lighter tension.

low impact exercises deadlift reverse lunge with row 2
Bonded by the Burn/Mckenzie Cordell

5. Deadlift Reverse Lunge with Row

Works your glutes, quads, hamstrings, core and back.

Step 1: Loop a circle band under the arch of your right foot while holding the opposite end in your left hand. Begin in a reverse lunge stance with your right foot forward, left foot back and shoulders directly over your hips. Stack your right knee over your ankle and back knee below your hip. Pull your ribs in and down to engage your core while reaching your right arm out to the side to help maintain balance.

Step 2: With your spine long, draw your left arm back for a single-arm row as you tap your left knee down. With control, release your left arm, hinge your torso forward and press through your right heel to lift the left leg up and back off the floor. Slowly lower your left leg back down to the starting position.

Step 3: Continue this movement for 60 – 90 seconds. Switch sides and repeat.

*Modification: Skip the circle band or use one with a lighter tension.

low impact exercises banded glider lunge
Bonded by the Burn/Mckenzie Cordell

6. Banded Glider Lunge

Works your quads, glutes, hamstrings, biceps, shoulders, core and back muscles.

Step 1: Loop a long resistance band under the arch of your right foot. Hold the ends of the band in each hand and bend your arms to a 90-degree angle with your palms facing in. Step the ball of your left foot onto a glider and press back to lower down into a lunge with your right foot forward. Hinge your torso slightly forward so most of your weight sits in your right thigh.

Step 2: Simultaneously press through your right heel and left ball of the foot (on the glider) to help you stand and straighten your right leg.

Step 3: Pull up on the bands as you bend your right leg and push the glider back. Continue this movement at a slow pace for 60 – 90 seconds. Switch sides and repeat.

*Modification: Use a lighter tension resistance band.

low impact exercises banded glider kick
Bonded by the Burn/Mckenzie Cordell

7. Banded Glider Kick

Works your quads, glutes, hamstrings, biceps, shoulders, core and back muscles.

Step 1: Loop a long resistance band under the arch of your right foot. Hold the ends of the band in each hand and bend your arms to a 90-degree angle with your palms facing in. Step the ball of your left foot onto a glider and lower down into a lunge with your right foot forward. Hinge your torso slightly forward so most of your weight sits in your right thigh.

Step 2: Keeping your right leg and torso still, slowly pull your left foot in as you hammer curl your fists up towards your shoulders, squeezing your biceps and keeping your elbows in close to your body.

Step 3: Lower the arms with control as you push the glider back and fully extend your left leg. Continue this movement at a slow pace for 60 – 90 seconds. Switch sides and repeat.

*Modification: Use a lighter tension resistance band.

low impact exercises cris cross tricep extension
Bonded by the Burn/Mckenzie Cordell

8. Criss-Cross Tricep Extension

Works your core, obliques, triceps, shoulders, back, inner thighs and quads.

Step 1: Loop a circle band around your wrists and begin in a plank position with both feet on separate gliders.

Step 2: Criss-cross your right leg in front of your left while rotating your left hip open until they’re stacked on top of each other. Space out your feet so that your knees don't touch. Roll onto the inner edge of your right foot and press your left heel down into the glider. Squeeze your inner thighs and pull your tailbone down to engage your core.

Step 3: Maintaining this position, hold the band down with your right hand and grip the other end with your left. Hug your right arm in towards your body and then fully extend your left arm back to stretch the band. Soften your elbow and bring your forearm back in to return to the starting position. Continue with this movement for 45 – 60 seconds. Switch sides and repeat.

*Modification: Stack your knees onto the glider, swing your feet back towards your glutes and perform in a kneeling twisted plank position.

low impact exercises side plank pike
Bonded by the Burn/Mckenzie Cordell

9. Side Plank Pike

Works your core, obliques, arms, back, inner thighs and quads.

Step 1: Begin in a plank position with one glider. Place the side of your right foot on the glider while stacking the left on top. Keeping your butt in line with your shoulders, press evenly through your palms and twist your hips open to the left while your shoulders remain square. Pull your tailbone down towards your heels and scoop your bottom right hip in towards your ribcage to stabilize your lower back.

Step 2: Keeping the outer edge of your right foot glued to the glider, pike your hips up and pull your ribs in as you fold your chest towards your thighs.

Step 3: Slowly lower your hips back down until they align with your chest as you spin your top hip open towards the ceiling and scoop your bottom right hip up towards your rib cage. Continue this movement for 45 – 60 seconds. Switch sides and repeat.

low impact exercises twisted bear
Bonded by the Burn/Mckenzie Cordell

10. Twisted Bear

Works your core, obliques, arms, back, inner thighs and quads.

Step 1: Begin in a plank position and place both feet on a single glider. Pick up your right foot and cross it in front of your left. Connect your pinkie toes and kiss your ankles together. Spiral your hips, knees and toes 45 degrees to the left.

Step 2: Keeping your hips in line with your shoulders, press evenly through your palms and hold this twisted position while keeping your shoulders square. Bend your knees and slowly pull your thighs in towards your left elbow.

Step 3: Stop once your knees are just below your hips and begin to slowly press the glider back out. As you straighten your legs, keep your hips twisted and pull your tailbone down towards your heels. Continue this movement for 45 – 60 seconds. Switch sides and repeat.

low impact exercises gliding tricep dip
Bonded by the Burn/Mckenzie Cordell

11. Gliding Tricep Dips

Works your core, triceps, shoulders, back, inner thighs and quads.

Step 1: Begin in a plank position with your feet together on a single glider. Keep your shoulders directly over your wrists and hips in line with your chest. Engage your quads by pulling your thighs up and drawing your inner thighs together to lengthen your tailbone down towards your heels. Engage your core in and press your palms away from the floor.

Step 2: Slowly hinge from your shoulders and begin to float your shoulders back behind your wrists as you push the glider away from your body. Soften your elbows to slowly lower your forearms down to the ground.

Step 3: Once your forearms land, quickly crawl your elbows forward and walk up to the high plank starting position. Continue this movement for 45 - 60 seconds.

*Modification: Place your knees together on the glider and perform this move in a kneeling plank position.

low impact exercises army crawl
Bonded by the Burn/Mckenzie Cordell

12. Army Crawl

Works your core, arms, back, inner thighs and quads.

Step 1: Begin in a forearm plank position with your feet together on a single glider. Keep your shoulders directly over your wrists and hips in line with your chest. Pull your thighs up and press your tailbone down towards your heels to engage your quads and core.

Step 2: Keeping your hips stable, crawl your elbows forward and back along the mat. Continue this movement for 15 – 30 seconds.

*Modification: Place your knees together on the glider and perform this move in a kneeling plank position.

RELATED: 34 Lower Body Exercises for Leg Day and Beyond

From Around The Web