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What Low Impact Exercises Burn the Most Calories?

Okay, let’s face it.

At some point you may decide that you want to add more activities to your fitness routine.

After all, variety is the spice of life.

Walking is a superior form of exercise. And hiking is MY favorite.

However, I totally understand if you want to burn more calories or change it up.

And  depending on the weather (if is is too cold or too hot outside) it may just make more sense to exercise indoors.

So What Exercises Burn The Most Calories?

 Swimming – Swimming is a full body activity. It helps boost your cardiovascular fitness and it tones muscle. The challenge to swimming, of course, is finding a pool. Most communities have fitness centers with pools. Find out when their free swim or adult lap swimming session hours are and try it out. An hour of swimming burns around 500 calories.

 Bicycling – Bicycling is something that you can do indoors or outdoors. Indoors you can use a stationary cycle or put your bicycle on rollers. Biking is a low impact sport, which means there’s little risk of impact injury or damage to your joints. You can burn between 500 and 900 calories bicycling for an hour.

 Dancing – One of the reasons so many people are turning to dancing fitness classes like Zumba, besides the fact that they’re really fun, is that you can customize the workout to fit your needs. They can be low impact or high impact classes. You decide. And you still get a great workout and fitness benefit.

 Zumba isn’t the only option, of course. You could take a ballroom dancing course. If you like country music, then go line-dancing. It’s a fun way to burn calories. Speaking of which, you can burn around 600-700 calories an hour dancing.

Of course those three activities are really only the beginning.

Here are a few other low impact exercises to consider:

 Other sports to consider include:         

  • Cross country skiing – around 500-600 calories an hour
  • Fitness boxing – 600-700 calories an hour
  • Indoor fitness equipment like stair stepper, elliptical, and ski machine all average between 500-600 calories an hour.

 Back to Walking…

 If you’re interested in burning more calories and you love your walking program, and why shouldn’t you, walking is a blast!

Why not amp it up a bit? Walking at a brisk pace already burns around 500 calories an hour, so you’re off to a rockin’ start. But maybe you want more. With a little creativity you can magnify the calorie burn.

How to burn more calories walking:

Intervals – Have you heard about intervals? They’re an easy, and fun, way to burn more calories. And they’re simple. An interval is literally defined as “the space between two points.” In exercise lingo it means that you vary your intensity.

 For example, you might walk at your normal walking pace for ten minutes and then walk as fast as you can walk for one or two minutes. Then you slow down again to your normal pace. You can get strategic with it and create an interval walking plan or you can just have fun with it.

 Hills – Hills kick your butt. If you live in a hilly place you’ve probably already noticed how much harder your body has to work to walk uphill. To burn more calories, find a route or trail that has some hills. Work hard on the up and enjoy the down!

 Trails – If you’re accustomed to walking on sidewalks, a treadmill, or a track why not get out into nature and try trails. Trails can actually make your body work harder because they’re often uneven. You have to work to stabilize your core and stay in balance. And they’re usually hillier too. Pack a snack and a camera and get out on the trails to get your workout.


Low impact doesn’t mean low calorie burn. Find an activity that you enjoy and get out and do it. Swim, dance, walk, ski, whatever makes you smile – the activity isn’t as important as the habit.

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