3 Surprise Benefits to Low Impact Workouts

The hype surrounding cultivating a mind-body connection may seem almost played out. But even if you’re on the verge of debunking meditation fanatics, the long-term benefits of strengthening one’s physical health in tangent with mental wellness are hard to deny. 

As an avid runner and fitness professional, I have been grinding through intense workouts for years—way more focused on maintaining a svelte physique and improving performance on race day. I’ll confess there are dozens of days (from a holistic perspective) exercising likely did me more harm than good. Which is why over the past few months, I am beginning to allow myself the gift of incorporating more low-impact training.

Barre 3 Madison owner Missy Dunn shares this perspective. “You do not need to push your body beyond its limit to get results. When you perform a movement that is low impact mindfully, you can be present and alive in your body at that very moment,” Dunn states. “Each time you show up for yourself in class, you can listen to what your body needs and act on it. This ultimately helps you change from the inside out and experience more joy in movement.”

According to Dunn, comprehensive benefits of low-impact exercise like barre classes include:

  1. FUNCTIONAL MOVEMENT – This type of movement works toward helping muscle imbalances that we may have from daily actions. For example, by engaging the core, relaxing the trapezoids (traps) and rolling shoulders down the back to align the spines neutrally can counteract the time spent sitting in an office chair, driving in a car and/or texting.
  2. MODIFICATIONS – Such workouts usually encourage leveling up or down the intensity of movement depending on what one’s body needs at that moment without adding extra tension to joints. Chances for injury decrease as you gain body wisdom.
  3. BREATHWORK – Space is created to focus on breathing. “Practice letting go of what is not serving you and knowing that you can ALWAYS come back to your breath when you need it,” emphasizes Dunn. “This can be used whether you are doing step taps in the studio, stuck in traffic—or need a moment to reset.”

Such activity, when fused with nutrient-dense meals and snacks, facilitates achievement of wellness goals from a total conditioning standpoint. Fellow barre enthusiast, registered dietitian and Real Good Nutrition founder Emmy Bawden affirms the importance of adequate sustenance to support one’s fit regiment. “In my experience, most people are unaware of the benefit that pre- and post-exercise nutrition have with a low-impact workout like barre3. My top tip for supporting an active lifestyle is making sure to eat something within 45 minutes post-workout. This is the window during which our bodies are most effective at recovering from exercising by decreasing muscle breakdown, increasing muscle protein growth, and restoring glycogen,” Bawden explains.

“It’s really our “regrow and repair” time, but without thoughtful nutrition, our bodies aren’t as effective with this. I like to remind my clients that delaying eating post-workout could mean less energy for the next one (which can make it tough if you’re trying to get in a routine of exercising regularly). It may also lead to low blood sugar and overwhelming hunger post-sweat, making it easier to overeat when finally sitting down to a meal,” she says. “So bring a snack that contains both carbohydrates and protein—yogurt with berries, a protein shake with a banana, or peanut butter and whole-grain crackers—to have when you are done, or be sure to have a meal shortly after your workout concludes.” Following Bawden’s sage advice after a recent info session she facilitated, I can attest to feeling stronger and less “shredded” after a round at the barre. So pull up a mat, prepare to sweat and leave charged with more energy to pursue all your aspirations.

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