Cardiovascular exercise is a key component of good health. Regular cardio “has been shown to improve everything from body composition to sleep quality” (Well & Good, 2024). On top of this, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death globally (yes, you read that right), which further highlights the importance of incorporating cardiovascular activity into your fitness routine. There’s a wide variety of cardiovascular activities to choose from, each of which falls into one of two categories: low-impact and high-impact.

The types of cardio and which one you should prioritize


Low-impact cardio is designed to minimize stress on your joints while still providing an effective workout. These activities involve less force on the body, making them accessible for people of all fitness levels. This can be particularly beneficial for those with joint issues or arthritis and those recovering from injuries. Examples of low-impact cardio movements that our at-home personal trainers often use include step-jax, slow butt-kicks, or slow burpees to elevate a client’s heart rate without the use of equipment. These low-impact movements are particularly useful for older adults, as joints tend to weaken with age. Other popular low-impact cardio exercises include walking, cycling, swimming, and elliptical.


High-impact cardio exercise typically involves jumping or rapid power movements. They are known for their intensity and calorie-burning potential, making them a popular choice among those looking for a challenge. Aside from high-calorie expenditure, high-impact cardio exercises can help promote bone density and reduce your risk of osteoporosis, especially when combined with resistance training to improve strength, power, and performance. High-intensity (anaerobic) activities also release higher levels of endorphins, which can boost your mood and reduce stress. 

Though the benefits are immense, high-impact cardio can place significant stress on the joints and bones. Therefore, it’s advisable to consult your doctor and follow the guidance of a certified in-home or virtual personal trainer before tackling high-impact exercises on your own. That said, “there is no bottom-line scientific study that [reveals] high-impact exercise is bad for joints and a recipe for pain” (Women’s Health, 2023). Examples of high-impact cardio include running, jumping jacks, plyometrics, and high-intensity interval training (HIIT).


When deciding between low-impact and high-impact cardio, it’s essential to consider your goals, current fitness level, possible health conditions or injuries, and personal preferences. Some people enjoy the challenge of a high-impact workout, while others may find low-impact exercises more calming and sustainable. If you’re new to exercise or have joint issues and/or injuries, starting with low-impact can help you build a healthy cardiovascular foundation while minimizing your risk of injury. As you progress and become stronger, it’s important to gradually incorporate any high-impact activities into your routine, ensuring proper form and technique for safety. Navigating transitions like these makes personal trainers worth it.


At the end of the day, the most successful fitness routine is one that you enjoy and makes you feel good. Whether you choose gentle movements or dynamic jumps guided by an in-home personal trainer, consistency and dedication will always be the bottom line for seeing long-term health and fitness benefits. 

If you’d like help incorporating cardio into your routine – or any other fitness goals – we’re here for you. We offer in-person training in Toronto, Collingwood, Ottawa & Hamilton and virtual personal training everywhere. First workouts are zero pressure and always free – you can book yours here.