I’ve always been a fitness enthusiast. In my early twenties, I was training for 10K races and spending hours at the gym every week. But around my mid-thirties things got more complicated. My body couldn’t handle the stress of high impact workouts anymore so I switched to low impact workouts like Pilates, cycling and walking. To my surprise, within six months after making this change — I lost weight, healed old injuries and had way more energy.
For years, I was doing three to five strenuous HIIT gym workouts plus running anywhere from 15 – 20 km a week. But instead of being lean and strong, I found that my body began to break down. My joints were sore and my body was in shock from all of the intense workouts.
My hips were in a bad state due to the weight of running, jumping and heavy lifting workouts. It was just too much for my hips to handle and I eventually had to stop all exercise for a few months.
Then pregnancy hit.
With a newborn and toddler my body couldn’t handle high intensity, strenuous workouts anymore. Plus, I didn’t have the time or freedom to do a workout anytime I wanted.
I was tired. My body was tired.
So instead of giving up on exercise altogether, I had to find an alternative way to get my exercise fix when life got busy. And that’s when I discovered Pilates!
What I loved is that Pilates was a low impact workout with slow controlled, mindful movement. It was gentle on my body and didn’t leave me feeling depleted. I loved it because it gave me time to really focus on myself through movement in a gentle compassionate way.
What is Pilates?
Pilates uses a series of movements to strengthen muscles throughout the entire body. In a Pilates class you will move your body in controlled movements without straining or stressing your joints or tendons. What you’ve probably heard about Pilates is that it focuses on strengthening your core — that is, the muscles along your spine, from your lower back to your shoulders.
That’s only partly true.
Pilates is a full body strength training workout that focuses on improving your balance, flexibility, toning your whole body and building your mind body awareness.
After a short time of regular low impact Pilates sessions, extra weight melted off, my muscles lengthened, I gained over 1 inch in height and healed my pelvic floor.
I fell in love with Pilates and haven’t stopped practicing.
Exercise to reduce pain
My initial goal with low impact exercise was to feel better in my body and reduce pain, but as time went on I began to get that coveted hourglass shape where my hips were larger than my waist. One of the major benefits of Pilates is improved posture. This explains the extra inch I gained in height!
I started slow, with one or two low-impact workouts a week. The more I did it, the more confident I became. I even started adding more low impact exercises like hiking and biking into the mix.
Now I start every day with low impact exercise. Not only does it help me feel good physically but mentally as well! It made such a difference in my body I went on to become a certified Pilates Instructor with the intention to help others feel better in their bodies. Pilates has been such a gift to me physically and mentally.
If you’re stressed, injured or just want to try something new and better for your body, you might want to try low-impact exercises such as Pilates or yoga. These are a great option for those who still want an effective workout that doesn’t hurt their joints.
What is low impact exercise?
The best way to get the most out of a workout is to do the right kind of exercise. For many people this means a low impact exercise.
A lot of people think that if they’re not feeling sore the next day, their workout wasn’t effective. This couldn’t be further from the truth! There are actually low-impact exercises that can give you great results without causing muscle fatigue and soreness. You just have to know what to look for. It is important to listen to your body and find a workout that feels good in your body.
Here are some of my favorite low-impact workouts:
- Tai Chi
Benefits of low-impact exercising include:
- Better sleep
- Better moods and outlook on life (less stress)
- Improved energy levels
- Reduction of painful movements
If you’re looking to get in shape, you have to make sure that your workout is something you enjoy. If it feels like a chore, you’re never going to stick with it.
That’s why it’s so important to try different exercises. The truth is, if a workout feels good then you are more likely to stick with it. Remember—a key component of getting in shape is consistency.
Some people might think I am crazy for changing my routine, but it has been so worth it. Exercise is not all about numbers or weight loss! You can get a lot out of doing something that makes your body feel good and keeps you happy too. If you’ve been feeling stressed lately or are just getting back into exercising after being injured—give low-impact exercise a try!
Here is a 12-minute Beginner Pilates workout on my YouTube channel. This is perfect for anyone starting out with Pilates.
Christine Kirkland is a Certified Pilates Instructor offering online Pilates classes. She specializes in helping women to increase their balance, strength, mobility and feel their best every day by incorporating low impact movement into their daily lives. Sign up for her newsletter to receive exclusive content, access to free classes and fitness tips for women by clicking here.