Workout articles, healthy lifestyle tips, and fitness advice.

Take It Easy at the Gym With a Low-Intensity Workout

happy woman walking on treadmill, giving a thumbs up
A leisurely treadmill walk with your favorite TV show is a great way to get some exercise while still taking it easy!

by Mary Lambkin

One of the most common reasons people give up on their gym routine is because they feel burned out. They may be tired after a long day at work, too mentally drained by other demands to design a full-body workout, or simply not enticed by the idea of a heart-pounding, high-energy session on the treadmill.

If you find yourself in this situation — and we all do, from time to time — remember that unless you're sick, injured, or need a recovery day, something is better than nothing. If you're not in need of a rest day,onsider trading in your regularly scheduled sweat session for a low-intensity workout instead!

Benefits of Low-Intensity Workouts

Not only can you physically benefit from a low-intensity workout, but you might also find that it re-energizes you mentally — giving you more endurance to power through whatever else the day holds. Here are a few of the benefits you can enjoy by taking it easy during your next gym visit.

Improved Health and Fitness

Even though low-intensity workouts might not shred calories quite as vigorously as high-intensity workouts, that doesn't mean that they're a waste of your time. Studies show that low-intensity exercise can help individuals lower their blood pressure, lose weight, and maintain overall good health.

A gym routine that includes a good mix of high-intensity exercises (such as running, weightlifting, and explosive cardio workouts) and low-intensity activities (such as walking, leisurely cycling, and stretching) can help your body build different types of aerobic fitness and recover properly between gym sessions. Remember, you should plan a full day of rest if you're feeling tired due to illness, injury, or overworked muscles.

Mental Release

Low-intensity exercise is less demanding on your mind and body, allowing your thoughts to wander more easily. Even if you're feeling unmotivated to work out, remember, a low-intensity exercise session can actually help you relieve some of that tension!

Set an intention to relieve stress or consider a work problem from a different angle during a long walk. If you're in the middle of a daunting task, take a break for some light exercise — think of it as an escape. You can enjoy a TV show or podcast during a treadmill session or simply focus on the simple, specific movements of a good stretch.

Social Support

It's much easier to enjoy a workout that's relaxed and easy instead of serious and overly stressful. Make the most of your low-intensity workout by inviting a friend to join you at the gym.

A good rule of thumb for maintaining a sustainable walking pace during a low-intensity workout is your ability to keep up a conversation. If you're too out of breath to talk, then you're going too fast. With this in mind, a low-intensity walk is the perfect opportunity for some social time with friends. A 15-minute stretching session is also a great opportunity to connect with someone else and carry on a casual conversation!

Low-Intensity Workout Ideas

There are a number of ways you can take it easy at the gym but still get some great health and fitness benefits! Here are a few different workouts to focus on next time you're in the mood for a low-intensity sweat session.

Relieve Stress: Stretch

Stretching is a great way to relieve stress. Practice awareness as you adjust movements to your own comfort level. Engage in deep breathing techniques and long stretches that can help reduce tension. Don't forget to warm up a bit first!

Let Your Mind Wander: Cardio

Low-impact cardio workouts like cycling and rowing are easy on the body and require almost zero mental effort. Better yet, the repetitive nature of these exercises can be soothing after a stressful day, giving you a rhythm to relax to. Take it easy by going at a comfortable pace and pausing for breaks whenever you need to.

Zone Out: Go Outdoors

If you find yourself stuck on a problem or issue, try going for a run or walk. Consider having a friend join you so you can listen to another person's stories instead of focusing on your own, ortune into a song or show that will free your mind from whatever's bogging it down. After your workout, you might just realize that you've found a fresh perspective on your problem.

As always, please consult with a physician prior to beginning any exercise program. See full medical disclaimer here.