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High-impact and low-impact aerobic exercise both promote cardiovascular health, burn calories and help you maintain your ideal weight. Each method of aerobic conditioning has its obvious and not so obvious advantages and disadvantages. Whether you choose one, the other or a combination of the two depends on your fitness goals and your age and your susceptibility to injury.
High-impact aerobics implies that meaning both of your feet regularly lose contact with the floor. In contrast, during low-impact activities, at least one foot maintains contact the floor or workout surface. Examples of high impact exercises include high impact aerobic classes, jumping rope, certain types of dance, running, jogging and plyometric training workouts. Low-impact exercise has a wider list from which to choose. Options include low-impact aerobic classes, swimming, walking, dancing, cycling and exercising on machines such as the elliptical, the stair-stepper, step aerobics, the upper-body ergometer and the recumbent bicycle.
Rapid, short bursts of high intensity, high-impact activities such as jogging and jumping rope do a better job at stimulating bone cells than sustained, low-impact exercises such as walking, reports Professor Maria A. Fiatarone Singh of the University of Sydney. She defines high-impact aerobics as weight bearing exercise that requires you to load your weight onto your leg bones and spine after lifting your body weight from the ground. While high-impact aerobics is more effective than low-impact activity at maintaining bone density, it might not be feasible for seniors of people who are already experiencing osteoporosis. Low-impact aerobics offers a viable alternative.
The Injury Conundrum
High-impact aerobic exercise might provide better protection against osteoporosis, but the road to bone protection is paved with potential injury. Researchers at the Westland Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio compared the injury rates of low-impact and high-impact aerobic dance. They performed a survey of 275 aerobic dance instructors and participants in order to determine the overall injury rate for each group, along with the injury rate for high-impact versus low-impact aerobics. The results of their studies indicate that the high-impact group had a 35 percent injury rate, compared to 24 percent of the low-impact group.
While both types of exercise is benefit health, high-impact exercise triggers significant improvements in body composition, reports Arthur Weltman of the University of Virginia. Weltman's study involved 27 middle-aged obese women with metabolic syndrome - a condition that includes risk factors such as abdominal obesity, unacceptable cholesterol levels and high blood pressure.The research divided the women into three groups. The seven women in the control group did not change their activity levels. Eleven women performed low-intensity exercise five days per week; and nine performed low-intensity exercise two days per week and high-intensity exercise three days per week. Low-intensity exercise involved walking, while high-intensity exercise involved walk-jogging and jogging. The high-intensity group showed the most significant reduction in total abdominal fat, subcutaneous abdominal fat and visceral abdominal fat.