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Four Low-Impact Exercises for Beginners

Four Low-Impact Exercises for Beginners

Exercise is essential for getting your body ready for bariatric surgery, and for maintaining a healthy post-surgery lifestyle. If you are starting from Square One, however, exercise can be a daunting in both theory and practice. Many of those who are unfamiliar with fitness routines make the mistake of pushing themselves too hard too quickly. This creates an unhealthy “no pain no gain” mindset and can discourage newcomers from sticking with their routines. When starting any exercise program or routine it’s important to ease into it, and low-impact exercises make it easy to go from fitness rookie to MVP.

Note: Please consult with your physician before beginning any exercise program and do not continue any exercise that causes extreme pain or discomfort.

Here are four low-impact exercises that are perfect for beginners.


Swimming is one of the best low-impact exercises out there. The water provides just enough resistance to make this an effective, but gentle workout. It puts almost no pressure on your joints, leaving you free to build muscle and endurance. Plus, all you need to do is grab a swimsuit and a pair of goggles, and you’re ready to dive in. If you aren’t blessed with a backyard pool, check out your local gym or community center. Larger gyms are more likely have a full-size pool or a lap pool. Community recreation centers are also another option. These facilities may offer swimming memberships for using the pool and some may even offer group water aerobics classes. Rec centers are a great option for those who aren’t a fan of the typical gym setting. 


Walking is a great exercise. It’s the easiest way to begin exercising, because you already walk every day. Plus, walking can be done year-round, indoors and out. It is low-impact and requires no accessories or equipment—any pair of comfortable shoes will work just fine. Ankle weights or wrist weights are optional if you’d like added resistance, but they are not necessary to work up a sweat while walking.

When starting out, walk at a speed that feels comfortable for you. An ideal pace is one that is challenging but not tiresome. If can hold a conversation without being too out of breath you’ve found the initial right pace.  If you prefer the encouraging environment of group exercise get some friends together and start a walking club.


Yoga may be a stereotypical Southern California exercise, but don’t let its reputation fool you. Yoga is a great way for just about everyone to build strength without putting strain on the knees, hips, and other joints. Yoga’s fluid movements are gentle on the body and can easily be modified if a pose or position causes any discomfort.
One misconception about yoga is that the only way to practice is to go to an expensive yoga center or studio. Many cities offer community yoga classes or donation-based classes that allow participants to pay only what they can afford for the class. Classes aren’t the only way to learn yoga, however. There are plenty of tutorials on YouTube, for all experience levels, that allow you to practice yoga from the comfort of your living room. These tutorials allow you to learn at your pace, so you can rewind or pause the video as needed. So, light a candle, roll out the yoga mat, and get ready to say “Om.”


If you’re looking for a fun form of cardio that doesn’t feel like “real” exercise, look no further than dancing. Like yoga, professional instruction isn’t necessary to get in a good workout. There are plenty of fitness-focused dancing videos online, but you can also wing it and just freestyle. Focus on feeling good and working up a sweat. Don’t worry about your choreography skills, just crank up your favorite music and move your body to the beat.

Dancing is another effective exercise that can be done almost anywhere, rain or shine. Even dancing for a half-hour at a time is enough to feel a difference, but you’ll probably find it hard to stop after just 30 minutes. Create dancing playlists and keep the soundtrack fresh by finding new songs that help you move.

Low-impact exercises score high for effectiveness and fun, especially for individuals who need a gentle alternative to typical, more rigorous workouts. Try starting with just one low-impact exercise, then once you’ve established a routine you can incorporate other exercises to mix it up.  Commitment is the key, and it’s difficult to commit to a workout that isn’t enjoyable, so find an exercise that is a good match for your lifestyle and fitness level.