Close this search box.

High Impact Aerobic Exercise: Pros and Cons

High impact aerobic exercise
Kent Probst, BS, MEd
Kent Probst is the owner of Long Healthy Life Blog

High Impact Aerobic Exercise: The Basics

High impact aerobic exercise involves exercise in which your feet frequently leave the ground at the same time.  It’s great for getting your heart rate up, improving cardiovascular fitness and health.

But high impact aerobic exercise is just one piece of the puzzle to consider when designing a workout. An effective workout should be varied, and there are many other forms of aerobic exercise to consider.

High impact aerobic exercise may not be right for everyone.. 

A workout that doesn’t address your needs will waste your time and make it harder to reach your goals, increasing the likelihood that you’ll stop exercising. The frequency, intensity, time, and type of exercise should be appropriate for your goals.

Factors such as fitness level, medical history, and comfort should be considered as well when selecting the type of aerobic exercise.

Medicine Balls at Power Systems


Types of Aerobic Exercise

High Impact:

  • Running
  • Jumping Rope
  • Tennis
  • Step aerobics


Medium Impact:

  • Walking
  • Hiking
  • Stepmill


No Impact:

  • Swimming
  • Spinning
  • Elliptical Crosstrainer



Advantages and Disadvantages of High Impact Aerobic Exercise


  • Weight bearing exercise – High impact aerobic exercise will increase bone mass and is good for preventing osteoporosis.


  • Increased caloric expenditure – Generally, weight bearing exercise (in which your legs support your body weight) tend to burn the most calories. Higher exercise intensity means higher caloric expenditure.


  • Improved balance – High impact aerobic exercise such as step aerobics or jumping rope will improve balance more than riding a stationary bike.


  • Improved coordination – High impact aerobic exercise may result in better coordination in your activities of daily living.  



  • Joint Precautions – People with joint replacements, such as hip and knees, should avoid high impact aerobic exercise, since it will wear out the joint implants faster.


  • Osteoporosis – If you have a diagnosis of osteoporosis, you should avoid exercise that involves explosive or high impact loading movements. Bending, twisting, or compression of the spine should also be avoided by people with osteoporosis, since it increases the risk of fractures.  


  • Contraindicated for impaired balance – People with severely impaired balance may not be able to participate in high impact aerobic exercise since it may increase risks of falls and fractures. Other less challenging types of exercise may be more appropriate, while still improving balance.


  • Painful joints – People with arthritis may experience joint pain during high impact aerobic exercise. Exercise that causes pain should be avoided. 


Designing Your Workout

Whether you choose high impact, low, or no impact aerobic exercise, having someone to work out with will make it more interesting and improve your exercise adherence.

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity cardiovascular exercise, or 75 minutes per week of vigorous cardiovascular exercise to significantly reduce the risk of disease.

Moderate intensity is 40%-59% of heart rate reserve (HRR) and vigorous intensity is 60%-89% of HRR. 

To calculate your target heart zone:

  • Maximum heart rate = 220 minus your age
  • Measure resting heart rate in one minute
  • Calculate heart rate reserve (HRR) by subtracting resting heart rate from maximum heart rate 
  • Multiply HRR by 40%. Add your resting heart rate to this number.
  • Multiply HRR by 59%. Add your resting heart rate to this number.
  • These two numbers are your target heart zone for moderate intensity cardiovascular exercise


Modes of cardiovascular exercise should involve major muscle groups such as running, swimming, bicycling, cross country skiing, stair climbing, high intensity interval training (HIIT), or walking.

Frequency: 3-5 days per week.  Regular cardiovascular exercise is instrumental in achieving a healthy body composition. 

Find a form of aerobic exercise that’s appropriate to your fitness level, medical history, and comfort level. Find a workout that you enjoy. 

An unpleasant experience can cause you to drop out rather quickly. So make exercise fun!

Need help designing a workout? The American Council on Exercise has resources to help you find a fitness professional.

Healthy Female Checkup @

Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links, and I will earn a commission if you purchase through these links. Please note that I’ve linked to these products purely because I recommend them and they are from companies I trust. There is no additional cost to you.

Share this:


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

I accept the Privacy Policy

Hi, I'm Kent

As a personal trainer, exercise physiologist, and bodybuilder, I’ve dedicated my life to optimal nutrition, fitness and natural remedies. And putting it all into practice. Now I’m taking my experience and knowledge to the next level by helping others through blogging.


and get the FREE resource – 8 essential foods you should eat for a longer, healthier life

Browse by Category



and get the FREE resource – 8 fitness tips to make your workout far more effective