Best Low-Impact Exercise Machines for Cardio

When I first began going to the gym on a regular basis to get exercise about the only exercise machine I recognized was the treadmill. Some of the cardio machines that are out there looked darn intimidating and I had no idea how to use most of them. As I became more comfortable in the gym and had a couple of sessions with a trainer there I learned about the different types of cardio machines that not only provide an amazing cardio workout, but are also low-impact. Finding low-impact cardio exercises that I was comfortable using was particularly important when I first started out because I didn’t want to put unnecessary strain on my knees or other joints.

There are a number of different types of low-impact exercise machines you can use to get a good workout.

There are a number of different types of low-impact exercise machines you can use to get a good cardio workout that is easy on the knees and hips.

There are many ways that you can get into shape, but your exercise routine must have two components. You have to do some type of strength training, and then you have to get in cardiovascular activity – otherwise known as cardio. Both men and women should have both in a good workout plan. Cardio can be done in many ways, which is good because people all have a different idea of what they like to do and what they can stick with from day to day. If you aren’t one for jogging or biking, which are both activities that can cause strain on the hips and knees, then using a low- impact cardio machine for cardio may be the perfect option for you. There are many different machines out there and the best idea is to take the time to try out a bunch to find which ones you like the best.

The standard exercise bike has been around for a long time and can be the machine of choice for those that must have a lower impact workout. This machine is great for those that are pregnant or obese, as it takes much of the strain off of the knees and the rest of the body while still allowing a pretty decent and intense workout. Recumbent exercise bikes are also available and are the best choice for easing joint strain while exercising. Of course, as with all activities, to get the most benefit from your workout on an exercise bike you will need to work hard enough. Adjust the resistance on the bike until you have to do some work to pedal and gradually increase the intensity of your workouts as your body becomes stronger.

The elliptical machine is also a popular type of low-impact cardio exercise machine (and is my personal favorite machine to use). These have a very fluid motion that makes the joints work in a positive manner without adding to or creating damage in the knees or hips. The type that has moving arm rests tends to be the best as they can offer a workout for the back and arms as well, not just the legs and core. Unlike the exercise bike, however, the elliptical requires a person to hold their own weight. Most elliptical machines have pedals that can be adjusted according to your stride. Take the time to adjust the pedals properly before beginning your workout to avoid any unnecessary strain on your hip joints.

Another low-impact exercise machine for cardio that is similar to the elliptical is the Arc Trainer. If you’ve ever stayed up late enought at night to see the infomercials with a crazy guy with a ponytail, Tony Little, almost busting the seams of his shorts on the “Gazelle” then you have seen an Arc Trainer before. Basically this machine allows you to swing your legs in a wide stride and the resistance can be adjusted to give you a  harder or easier workout. Some people prefer the arc trainer to an elliptical because it positions the feet and legs in a slightly different way that removes almost all torque from the knees and hips when exercising.

While not as common, the rowing machine is also one of the best low-impact exercise machines for cardio. Though most think this just works out the upper body and arms, it also works out the back, core muscles and legs. There is little to no impact on the knees and hips with this machine and body weight is predominantly supported by the machine, making it an excellent choice of exercise machine for people who are quite overweight or have bad knees or hips.

Of course, you can get low-impact cardio without machines if that is what you wish. If you have bad knees and other joints in your body, take an aerobic workout done in a swimming pool such as aquacise. You can find these at your local gym in many cases, and you can also work out on your own if you have a pool in your yard. You can also ask someone at your gym about other low-impact exercise options they have to offer.

Other Related Posts and Articles you May Find Interesting: “Exercising When Overweight“, “Exercise Tips for New Dieters” and “Body Shaker Vibration Plates“.

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6 comments to Best Low-Impact Exercise Machines for Cardio

  • Elliptical machines

    Elliptical machines are also my favorite. You mentioned swimming, which is really my favorite cardio workout overall because it works out EVERYTHING and is incredibly refreshing; but when it comes to a MACHINE that offers low/no impact on the joints, ellipticals take the cake.

    Also, I love rowing machines because of a reason you hit right on the head, the core workout.

    Great read – I feel the need to go to the gym now, haha!

  • workouts to lose weight

    Great and innovative post! I definitely love the treadmill when doing my workouts! Thanks for the helpful pointers!

  • Michele Buchauer

    Great site. Gives me inspiration for my fitness goals this year.

  • Bob Rowing

    Good article. I’ve used a ton of exercise equipment and always found that a rowing machine was best – low impact and gives a full body workout, plus they pack away nice and small!

  • Cindy

    Great article. I have cross trained most of my life and have found the greatest beyond low impact, outdoor cross trainer yet: The GlideCycle. This has given me the best cardio workout since I had to quit running and is such fun. I would highly recommend that you add this to your list. I cannot run anymore but on my GlideCycle I can run unweighted, up to 25 miles so far at an average speed of 9-10 mph with my heart rate in the high end aerobic zone and anaerobic zones. What is different is the lack of post exercise stiffness and soreness and a more complete body workout, especially my core muscles. I have run up to 10 miles up hills, on woodland trails and barefoot on beaches. Look at what these people are doing at It’s awesome!

  • CarlyMalcome

    I can’t stand the gym so while I appreciate this is article is about machines, when I am looking for low impact I opt for outdoor exersise such as:

    Mountain biking
    In-line skating
    Horseback riding

    Nothing beats the feel of fresh air in your lungs.

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