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The Value of High Impact Exercises

I just had my third fitness training session with James from G Force Training (read about my first session here) and as we worked out, he told me about the health benefits of high impact exercises. It was valuable information so if you want to expedite your workouts, keeping reading!

First things, first. What is `high impact exercise’? For those of you who have the time, read this excellent article published by SparkPeople, “Low Impact vs. High Impact Exercises: Which is Right for You?” For those of you who have only a few minutes, high impact exercises are activities where both of your feet leave the ground at the same time.

Some examples of high impact exercises include: running, jumping, skipping, plyometrics, some step aerobics and burpees. If you don’t know what burpees are yet, check out this 1 minute video:

Basically, high impact exercises (as James explained) are those where you’re experiencing the force of gravity and using it as extra resistance to `right’ yourself when you land back on the ground, thereby using additional muscles to compensate from the g-force. According to Wikipedia, “The g-force (with g from gravitational) associated with an object is its acceleration relative to free-fall.”

Hmm… can you guess how Gidon came up with the company name, G Force Training?

The SparkPeople article linked to above explains the added benefit from using the g-force in exercises as, “…your body must absorb the impact forces during high-impact moves. The force on your body while running (high impact) can be more than twice that of walking (low impact).”

The benefits of high impact exercises

These types of exercises are more intense so you burn more calories while building muscle, making your workout time more efficient and effective. There’s also research indicating that high impact exercises are the best bone-builders, too. (Source: Reuters)

Who benefits most from high impact exercises?

There are a few drawbacks from high impact exercises which make them unsuitable for some people. For instance, “a 150 lb person who runs will land on one foot with about 300 foot pounds of pressure on the ankle, knee and hip joints. This can result in overuse and stress injuries [as well as the spine], especially in larger people and at fast speeds.”

With this in mind, beginners are best to stick to low impact exercises until they and their bodies are ready to progress to higher intensity levels, while people who have a baseline of fitness and have a low risk for joint problems are safe to engage in high impact activities.

However, with a personal trainer’s guidance, beginners can enjoy getting fitter, faster, along with gaining the benefits of high impact exercises with programs that combine both high and low impact moves in a single workout. Beginners working out alone can also now safely engage in high impact exercises on rebounders (mini trampolines) which reduce the impact thanks to the `give’ of its surface.

What’s your favourite high impact exercise? 

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