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Effective, low-impact workouts that won’t damage your joints

By Christie Melhorn, November 1 2017 — 

From sprint intervals to endless burpees, high-impact workouts are dominating the fitness scene. They’re excellent for toning, boosting metabolism and burning tons of calories in no time, making them especially appealing for busy students. But excessive high-impact exercise is hard on your body, especially if you have existing joint issues or injury trauma. These low-impact activities still offer a killer workout with less risk of worsening or causing musculoskeletal damage.


As a dancer and former runner, I was skeptical about seated exercise until trying a rowing class — muscles that I didn’t know I had were sore. A Hallym University of Medicine study showed that rowing is an effective way to strengthen your back and manage weight. It’s an intense full-body workout and one of the few ways to build your behind while sitting on it. While it’s a bit cold for extended outdoor rows, the University of Calgary Fitness Center has rowing machines. Row 17, an indoor rowing studio Row 17 in Hanson Square on 17th Ave. SW, also offers rowing classes at student rates.


Barre fuses intricate ballet movements with pilates and yoga to increase flexibility and strengthen stabilizing muscles. The dance element improves coordination and memorizing a sequence is very rewarding. I get so into it that I usually forget I’m working out — until the burn in my legs flares the next day. You don’t need to be a ballerina to be successful either, as most classes are designed to accommodate all levels of dance and fitness experience. The Active Living Centre on campus offers weekly barre classes for the duration of the semester. Class bundles cost $100–$120 — a solid deal.


Summer bike rides are now behind us but spin provides a similar satisfaction. Generally, classes are interval-based, causing a vicious of lung pump comparable to sprints but without shocking your joints. Nothing can beat riding outdoors but the energetic atmosphere and friendly competitiveness of spin studios offers a different kind of reward.

Total Body Resistance training (TRX):

TRX utilizes suspension straps to intensify traditional exercises like push-ups and planks. Almost all of your muscles are used to maintain balance, offering a compact but low-impact strength-training workout. TRX particularly targets your core, improving posture and diminishing back pain — which can make those long nights in the library less painful.


I used to think my workout wasn’t good enough if I wasn’t drenched in sweat and out of breath afterwards. I would murder myself on the treadmill everday — and it was completely unnecessary. You don’t need to leave the gym totally gassed after every workout to be healthy. Walking is simple and effective way to maintain weight, improve cardio and even has meditative qualities — especially when walking in nature. Moseying around the block won’t make you marathon-ready but going at a moderate-to-fast pace is a great, enjoyable workout. It’s also probably the cheapest and most accessible exercise there is.


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