If you’re morbidly obese or have suffered an injury, this article will show you the best non-weight bearing cardio exercises for weight loss.
Being disabled, injured, obese, or elderly shouldn’t stop you from exercising. It can only stop you from doing regular exercises like burpees or squats.
Luckily, non-weight bearing cardio exercises can help you stay fit and lose weight. These are basically exercises that don’t require you to support your whole body weight.
Most non-weight bearing cardio exercises can only be performed while sitting or in water.
Chances are you won’t be able to do all the exercises below but I’m confident you’ll find at least 5 exercises you can do.
Non-Weight Bearing Cardio Exercises
1. Seated boxer punches
Shadowboxing while sitting can give you a good non-weight bearing cardio workout. This exercise works the arms, shoulders, and core.
When doing seated boxer punches keep your back straight and don’t lean on the chair. Throw the punches at high intensity.
Hold a dumbbell in each hand if you want to make this exercise more rewarding.
Swimming is probably the most popular non-weight bearing cardio exercise. Many people like it because it doesn’t put pressure on the joints and bones.
Swimming is ideal for seniors, obese individuals, and people recovering from minor injuries.
Regular swimming workouts will help you burn fat and improve cardiovascular health. Swim at least 3 times a week, 30+ minutes a session.
3. Arm pedaling
The arm bike can give you a good upper body workout. When done consistently, this exercise tones the arms, chest, back, shoulders, and core muscles.
One study found that the average person burns 9 calories per minute while arm pedaling.
If you can’t swim, arm pedaling will keep you in shape and improve your heart health. Remember to cycle at high intensity and keep your workouts longer than 15 minutes.
4. Knee push-ups
If you have an ankle injury, use knee push-ups to keep the upper body strong. You’ll be happy to find out that doing knee push-ups can help you get better at push-ups.
This exercise tones the arms, shoulders, and chest.
5. Deepwater running
Before you dismiss deep water running realize that your weight drops by 90 percent when you submerge your body in water up to the neck.
Running in water doesn’t have the same impact as running outdoors. And it can improve your fitness without hurting your joints or bones. In fact, this exercise is very beneficial to people with bad backs.
You may need a flotation belt if you’re a beginner. Simply wrap it on your ribcage then slide into the deep end and start running.
6. Seated overhead claps
Clapping may not seem like an exercise to many but I guarantee you that you’ll have more respect for this exercise after doing 50 reps nonstop.
To do seated overhead claps, sit upright and don’t lean on the chair. Keep your hands hanging on the side then raise them and clap over the head, lower the hands fast then raise them and clap again. Keep the arms straight throughout. Repeat this movement for 45 seconds, 3 times.
This exercise increases heart rate and improves cardiovascular health. It’ll also tone your arms and shoulders.
7. Indoor cycling
Cycling is a low impact exercise and it is perfect for seniors and people with minor injuries.
It’s important to adjust the sit properly. Setting it too high or too low can hurt your knees. Adjust the seat such that when the foot is at the top of the pedal stroke, the thigh is parallel to the floor.
A rowing machine can make your non-weight bearing cardio workout more rewarding. This equipment activates all muscle groups.
If you have a leg injury, reduce the resistance of the rowing machine or row with the arms only. Remember to tighten the abdominal muscles and keep the back straight.
Note that rowing isn’t safe for people with lower back pain.
9. Water aerobics
Water aerobics is a great way to build muscles and burn calories without straining the joints. In fact, a 10-week study found that water aerobic exercises can be beneficial to people with high blood pressure.
This type of training can also be beneficial to seniors, morbidly obese individuals, and those who haven’t learned how to swim.
10. Flutter kicks
You can use non-weight bearing cardio exercises to tone your abs. Flutter kicks work the abdominal muscles and legs.
To perform flutter kicks properly, lie on the floor and place your hands under the butt. Raise your head off the floor. Keep both feet a few inches off the floor, then raise one leg until it’s 45 degrees off the floor. And as you lower the leg, raise the opposite leg and keep alternating the legs without resting them on the floor.
Here’s a video I made demonstrating how to do flutter kicks.
11. Seated jumping jacks
This exercise is a great alternative for people who can’t take on the jumping jacks challenge. It’ll tone your arms, core, and legs.
To perform seated jumping jacks, sit on a sturdy chair. Keep your feet together and back straight (don’t lean back). Raise your hands and clap them over the head as you simultaneously spread your feet apart. Then lower your hands as you bring the feet back to starting position. Repeat this movement at least 20 times.
12. Chair running
You can do this non-weight bearing cardio exercise while watching TV. It will work your abs, arms, and legs.
Sit on a sturdy chair and keep your feet off the floor. Lean back and tighten your abdominal muscles. Bend one knee and bring it as close to the chest as possible. Then lower it back to starting position as you raise the other knee. Keep alternating the legs. Keep the arms bent and swinging throughout.
Do chair running for 30 seconds then rest and repeat.
13. Seated battle rope slams
Battle ropes aren’t for athletes and fitness freaks only. You can use them to burn fat and tone the upper body.
To perform battle rope slams, sit on a sturdy chair and keep your feet wide apart. Grab two ends of battle ropes on each hand. Slam the battle ropes on the floor at high intensity for 30 seconds. Do this at least 3 times.
14. Walking on crutches
If you’re on crutches, walking on them for a few minutes is a workout in itself. They’re great for building upper body strength and they’ll also raise your heart rate.
I may warn you that walking for long with crutches can cause shoulder pain. So walk for short distances until you get used to them.
15. Seated marching
If you want to get a lower body workout, this is one of the best non-weight bearing cardio exercises. It can help seniors and obese folks tone their legs.
To perform it, sit upright on a chair and keep the feet a few inches apart. Lift one knee high off the floor and as you lower it, lift the other knee and keep alternating this movement. Remember to land on the ball of your feet and keep the core tight.
Bonus: You should also try vertical climbing machines. Some of these machines are designed to put minimum pressure on the joints and they burn lots of calories. If you’re not sure which machine to buy checkout maxi climber vertical climber reviews.
Don’t skip workouts because of pain or injury. Use the exercises above to stay fit all year.
Doing non-weight bearing cardio exercises alone won’t help you lose weight. Remember that diet plays a bigger role in weight loss. Apply these tips if you want to reach your weight goal faster.
What’s your favorite non-weight bearing cardio exercise?