Top 6 low-intensity workouts

The best moderate workouts that still burn calories

You don’t have to a squeeze into the lycra and work yourself into a red-faced sweaty mess in order to enjoy a workout. If you are not into highly rigorous exercise, then more moderate workouts like Tai Chi, yoga or even exercising in water can all offer a low-intensity alternative, yet make a series dent in your calorie burn count.  

Water workout

Taking to the water can provide a great workout and be ideal for people who are just starting out in fitness or working their way back after an injury. There are a variety of options, from a full aqua aerobic session to sessions consisting of walking on underwater treadmills – really it’s all about being active, but in the water.

The water supports your bodyweight (up to 85 per cent of it), minimizing the impact on your joints, making it suitable for people of any age, size or fitness level. The number of calories burnt is dependent on the depth of the water – the deeper the water, the more calories you will burn as more energy is required to push your body mass through water. On average, a half hour session in the water will burn around 200 calories – and even more should you add additional weights to your body.


At first sight, Tai Chi may not appear as the most taxing of workouts, yet the flowing succession of slow and graceful movements can be a great calorie burner. Tai Chi is as low impact an exercise as you will find, yet a half hour session can burn on average 140 calories.

When done correctly, Tai-chi raises the heart rate significantly (to approximately 60 per cent of maximum) – enough to be classed as moderate exercise. In addition to the calorie burn, there are other benefits including improved strength, flexibility, concentration, and balance. And best thing of all is that Tai Chi can be done almost anywhere, anytime.

Get your skates on

In-line skating provides a great low impact workout which some studies have suggested provides the same level of aerobic activity as running or even riding a stationary bike. The calorie burn will depend on your size, the effort you put in, and the route you take, but it is estimated that half an hour skating could burn in excess of 200 calories.

Inline skating develops muscles in the entire upper leg, rear end and hip, as well as the lower back. Muscles in the upper arms and shoulders are also developed when arms are swung backwards and forwards while skating and you can increase your calorie burn just by swinging more vigorously.


Swimming provides a great cardiovascular workout and is suitable for all due to the fact that it is non-load bearing with the water cushioning your joints as you swim. Breaststroke is the lowest intensity stroke and as such burns fewer calories – around 180 calories for a half hour session – but it’s a stroke that generally enables you to swim for longer and therefore burn more calories from a longer session.

Breaststroke expands the lungs, works the chest muscles and inner thigh, shoulders, triceps, legs and hamstrings – and some even swear it increases the size of your breasts! If you wish to swim other strokes to increase your calorie burn then half an hour of swimming burns the following: freestyle/front crawl – 300 calories; backstroke – 240 calories; and butterfly – 450 calories.


Not only is yoga great for improving your strength, flexibility, muscle tone and reducing stress, it’s also a great calorie burner. Consisting of a series of deep-breathing exercises and ‘poses’ which are held for a set period of time, these can be adapted to suit  any fitness level. A typical half hour session will burn around 200 calories.

And the great thing is you can do a yoga workout with working up too much of a sweat which is great if you are really pushed for time. If you want try yoga of greater intensity to burn even more calories, then consider options like Bikram Hot Yoga, Power Yoga or Zero Gravity yoga.


Quite simply the easiest and most accessible form of workout is walking. Without the joint jarring that occurs when running, walking is a workout that can easily be fitted into your daily routine or added as a leisure pursuit during your free time. You can happily choose the intensity to work at which suits you.

If you are not used to a walking workout, then start with a short distance and walk at a pace that suits you. You can easily crank up your speed and distance for improved calorie burn count. The number of calories burned will depend not only on your size, but also the speed you walk and the route you take. As an example, an average sized woman walking on a flat route at around 3mph will burn around 150 calories.

Note: calorie burn figures are approximate as they are dependent on bodyweight, the intensity of the workout, routines or routes followed and individual’s fitness level.

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