Look, we get it. Not everyone enjoys high-intensity workouts that leave you breathless and drenched in sweat. Sometimes, a more low-key approach can be the key to sustainable weight loss and feeling your best. That's why we chatted with Kyrie Furr, CPT, a certified personal trainer and performance coach with Barbend, who introduces below the nine best low-intensity exercises for women to lose weight. Get ready to shed those extra pounds—and feel fantastic doing it!
The best part about low-intensity workouts and exercises is they're accessible to everyone, regardless of fitness level or age. These workouts are designed to be gentle on your joints, making them perfect for women who are looking to lose weight while minimizing their injury risk.
"Low-intensity exercise is any form of physical activity that's done at a comfortable pace," explains Furr. "Your heart rate doesn't get too high from this type of activity, and you can hold a steady pace for at least 30 minutes. Lower intensity forms of activity could also be considered low impact exercise, which means they're easy on your joints and the risk for injury is lower."
Read on for the best low-intensity exercises for women to lose weight, along with Furr's breakdown for each. Then, find out The 'Magic Number' of Days You Need to Exercise To See Results.
Walking is an effective low-intensity exercise that can support weight loss. Research suggests that walking offers numerous benefits, including improved cardiovascular health and muscle engagement.
"Walking is an excellent exercise for anyone looking to shed some weight," says Furr. "It's free and one of the most convenient forms of exercise while being low impact for your body and joints. Walking has been known to help with mood, balance and coordination, and weight management."
Swimming is a fantastic full-body workout that builds endurance, improves lung capacity, and tones muscles. Plus, it's an excellent way to beat the summer heat.
"Swimming is another great way to keep your workout lower impact while providing some strength components. Swimming is great for building shoulder and back strength while simultaneously working your core," says Furr.
This ancient practice combines gentle poses, controlled breathing, and meditation to create a holistic approach to fitness. According to recent research, yoga enhances flexibility, strengthens core muscles, and encourages mindfulness—a triple threat for weight loss and overall well-being.
"Yoga is another fantastic low-impact exercise," says Furr. "When practicing yoga, a person will typically put their body into static positions or 'flow' through a few different poses."
According to a 2021 study, Pilates focuses on core strength, flexibility, and posture, making it a stellar option for toning muscles and supporting weight loss. The controlled movements and emphasis on the mind-body connection
"Pilates will challenge you to hold positions while also moving your arms or legs to strengthen a specific muscle group further," says Furr. "Pilates will also help strengthen your body while improving your balance and coordination."
Cycling is a unique low-intensity exercise because it combines improved cardiovascular health with the joy of exploring your surroundings. Whether cycling in nature or taking a leisurely ride through your neighborhood, it's a great way to maintain a healthy weight while being kind to your joints.
"Cycling is a non-weight-bearing exercise that can be performed inside or outside. This form of exercise is again easy on your joints and is a full-body workout," says Furr.
Rowing is a low-impact exercise that's perfect for torching calories. Rowing machines are accessible in most gyms, offering a full-body workout that promotes weight loss while being gentle on your joints.
Furr says, "By using a rowing machine, you can build cardiovascular endurance while keeping your joints and body feeling healthy. With a wide range of workouts that can be done on these machines, you can control the intensity of your workout."
Kettlebell workouts combine strength and cardio, making them an efficient way to shed pounds and build lean muscle.
"Kettlebell training can be a great way to build strength while keeping low-intensity exercise," says Furr. "It's great for coordination, building strength, and working on mobility. It's a great tool for working imbalances and building grip strength."
Circuit training involves a series of low-intensity exercises performed in succession with minimal rest. This form of training keeps your heart rate up, promoting calorie burn and helping with weight loss.
"Circuit training can be useful for short bursts of energy with longer rest periods. You can pick low-impact bodyweight movements that can be used as interval training. Allowing for longer rest periods will let your heart rate recover or keep a steady heart rate throughout," explains Furr.
This ballet-inspired exercise blends elements of dance, Pilates, and yoga. Barre targets specific muscle groups, helping you tone and sculpt your way to your weight loss goals.
"Barre is a ballet-style exercise focusing heavily on mobility and flexibility. Like with most of these forms of exercise, Barre can improve balance and coordination," says Furr.