Best Low-Impact Exercises To Complement Intermittent Fasting Days: 4 Pros And Cons

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Best Low-Impact Exercises To Complement Intermittent Fasting Days

Starting an intermittent fasting routine often involves not only changes in eating patterns but also adjustments to physical activity routines. While fasting periods can provide a metabolic boost and support weight loss, it’s essential to pair them with appropriate exercise to maximize health benefits without compromising energy levels. Low-impact exercises offer an excellent way to complement intermittent fasting days, providing a gentle yet effective way to stay active, improve fitness, and support overall well-being.

In this article, we’ll explore a range of the best low-impact exercises to complement intermittent fasting days, offering practical tips and insights to help you maintain a balanced approach to health and fitness while fasting intermittently. Whether you’re new to intermittent fasting or looking to enhance your exercise routine, incorporating these low-impact exercises can help you achieve your health and fitness goals while fasting responsibly.

What Is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting (IF) is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of eating and fasting. It doesn’t dictate which foods to eat but rather when to eat them1. There are several different methods of intermittent fasting, but the most common ones involve fasting for a certain number of hours each day or fasting on alternate days. The primary goal of intermittent fasting is to promote weight loss, improve metabolic health, and potentially extend lifespan2. It has gained popularity in recent years due to its simplicity, flexibility, and potential health benefits.

Low-Impact Exercises With Intermittent Fasting

Incorporating low-impact exercises during fasting days is crucial for maintaining physical activity levels and supporting overall health and well-being. While fasting, the body may experience fluctuations in energy levels, and high-intensity workouts can be taxing and may lead to fatigue or muscle depletion.

Low-impact exercises, on the other hand, provide a gentler alternative that still promotes movement, circulation, and calorie expenditure without placing excessive stress on the joints or muscles3. By engaging in activities like walking, cycling, swimming, yoga, or pilates during fasting periods, you can sustain muscle tone, improve cardiovascular health, enhance mood, and support weight management goals without compromising your fasting regimen.

Additionally, low-impact exercises can help alleviate feelings of hunger or cravings by diverting attention and releasing endorphins, contributing to a more positive fasting experience overall4. Therefore, prioritizing low-impact workouts during fasting days is essential for maintaining an active lifestyle while maximizing the benefits of intermittent fasting.

Pros And Cons Of Exercise While Fasting

Exercising while on a fast can have both pros and cons, such as:


  1. Enhanced fat burning: Exercising during a fast may increase fat oxidation, promoting greater fat loss compared to exercising in a fed state5.
  2. Improved insulin sensitivity: Physical activity can enhance insulin sensitivity, allowing for better blood sugar control and potentially reducing the risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes6.
  3. Increased growth hormone production: Intermittent fasting combined with exercise can lead to increased secretion of growth hormone, which may aid in muscle growth and fat loss7.
  4. Mental clarity and focus: Some individuals report improved mental clarity and focus during fasted workouts, possibly due to increased adrenaline and noradrenaline levels8.


  1. Reduced energy levels: Exercising on an empty stomach can lead to decreased glycogen stores and lower blood glucose levels, resulting in reduced energy levels and fatigue9.
  2. Increased risk of muscle loss: Without readily available energy from food, the body may turn to muscle tissue for fuel during prolonged fasted workouts, potentially leading to muscle breakdown10.
  3. Risk of dehydration: Fasting can increase the risk of dehydration, especially if adequate fluid intake is not maintained before, during, and after exercise11.
  4. Elevated stress levels: Fasting combined with intense exercise can elevate stress hormones like cortisol, which may have negative effects on mood, sleep, and overall well-being12.

Overall, while exercising during a fast may offer certain benefits such as increased fat burning and improved insulin sensitivity, it’s essential to listen to your body, stay hydrated, and adjust workout intensity and duration based on individual needs and preferences. Additionally, consulting with a healthcare professional or fitness expert before incorporating fasted exercise into your routine is advisable, especially if you have underlying health conditions or concerns.

Best Low-Impact Exercises To Complement Intermittent Fasting Days

Some of the best low-impact exercises to complement intermittent fasting days include:


A brisk walk is a simple and effective way to get moving without putting too much strain on your joints. Aim for at least 30 minutes of walking each day to reap the benefits of cardiovascular exercise.


Whether outdoors or on a stationary bike, cycling provides a low-impact workout that targets the legs and cardiovascular system. It’s a great option for individuals of all fitness levels.


Swimming is a full-body workout that is gentle on the joints. It can improve cardiovascular health, muscle strength, and flexibility without causing stress to the body.


Yoga combines gentle movements with deep breathing and relaxation techniques, making it an ideal choice for low-impact exercise. It improves flexibility, balance, and mental well-being.

Tai Chi

Tai Chi is a mind-body practice that involves slow, flowing movements and deep breathing. It promotes relaxation, balance, and flexibility while improving overall physical and mental health.


Pilates focuses on core strength, flexibility, and body awareness through controlled movements. It’s particularly beneficial for improving posture, stability, and muscle tone.

Elliptical Training

Using an elliptical machine provides a low-impact cardio workout that mimics the motion of walking or running without the impact on the joints.


Rowing machines offer a full-body workout that engages multiple muscle groups while minimizing stress on the joints. It’s an effective way to improve cardiovascular fitness and strength.

Incorporating these low-impact exercises into your intermittent fasting routine can help you stay active, burn calories, and support overall health and well-being without causing undue strain on your body. Remember to listen to your body, start slowly, and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts as your fitness level improves.

Exercises To Avoid While Fasting

While intermittent fasting can provide numerous health benefits, there are certain high-intensity exercises that may not be suitable during fasting periods. Here are some exercises to avoid while doing intermittent fasting:

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

HIIT workouts involve short bursts of intense exercise followed by brief rest periods. These workouts are highly effective for burning calories and improving cardiovascular fitness, but they can be very demanding on the body, especially when performed in a fasted state. HIIT workouts may lead to fatigue, dizziness, and low blood sugar levels during fasting periods, so it’s best to avoid them while fasting.

Heavy Weightlifting

While weightlifting can be a beneficial form of exercise for building muscle and strength, lifting heavy weights during fasting periods may not be ideal. Intense weightlifting sessions can cause a significant increase in blood pressure and heart rate, which may be exacerbated by the stress of fasting. Additionally, heavy weightlifting requires a steady supply of energy, which may be limited during fasting periods, leading to decreased performance and increased risk of injury.

Long-Distance Running

Endurance activities like long-distance running can be taxing on the body, especially when performed in a fasted state. Running for extended periods without fuel can lead to fatigue, muscle breakdown, and decreased performance. Additionally, running long distances may increase the risk of dehydration and electrolyte imbalances, particularly if adequate hydration and nutrition are not maintained during fasting periods.

High-Impact Cardio

Exercises that involve jumping, bouncing, or rapid changes in direction, such as plyometrics or high-impact aerobics, should be avoided during fasting periods. These types of exercises place a significant amount of stress on the joints and connective tissues, which may increase the risk of injury, especially when the body is in a fasted state. Instead, opt for low intensity cardio activities like walking, cycling, or swimming, which are gentler on the joints and can still provide a great cardiovascular workout.

Extreme Sports

Activities like rock climbing, mountain biking, or snowboarding require a high level of physical exertion and coordination, which may be compromised during fasting periods. Engaging in extreme sports while fasting can increase the risk of accidents or injuries due to decreased energy levels, impaired reaction times, and reduced cognitive function. It’s best to save these activities for times when you are adequately fueled and hydrated.

Overall, it’s important to listen to your body and avoid any exercises that feel overly strenuous or uncomfortable during fasting periods. Instead, focus on gentle, low-impact activities that promote movement and circulation without putting excessive stress on the body. If you’re unsure whether a particular exercise is safe during fasting, consult with a healthcare professional or fitness expert for personalized guidance.


In conclusion, incorporating low-impact exercises into your intermittent fasting routine can offer numerous benefits for your overall health and well-being. From walking and cycling to swimming and yoga, there are plenty of options to choose from that can help you stay active without putting excessive strain on your joints.

By combining intermittent fasting with regular exercise, you can enhance your cardiovascular health, improve muscle tone and flexibility, and support your weight loss goals. Remember to listen to your body, start slowly, and choose activities that you enjoy and that fit your fitness level. With consistency and dedication, you can optimize the benefits of both intermittent fasting and low-impact exercise for a healthier and more balanced lifestyle.


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2 Patterson, R. E., Laughlin, G. A., LaCroix, A. Z., Hartman, S. J., Natarajan, L., Senger, C. M., Martı́Nez, M. E., Villaseñor, A., Sears, D. D., Marinac, C. R., & Gallo, L. C. (2015). Intermittent fasting and human metabolic health. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 115(8), 1203–1212. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2015.02.018

3 Tse, A.C.Y., Wong, T.W.L. & Lee, P.H. (2015). Effect of Low-intensity Exercise on Physical and Cognitive Health in Older Adults: a Systematic Review. Sports Medicine – Open/Sports Medicine – Open, 1(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40798-015-0034-8

4 Beaulieu, K., Oustric, P., & Finlayson, G. (2020). The Impact of Physical Activity on Food Reward: Review and Conceptual Synthesis of Evidence from Observational, Acute, and Chronic Exercise Training Studies. Current Obesity Reports, 9(2), 63–80. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13679-020-00372-3

5 Zouhal, H., Saeidi, A., Salhi, A., Li, H., Essop, M. F., Laher, I., Rhibi, F., Amani-Shalamzari, S., & Ben Abderrahman, A. (2020). <p>Exercise Training and Fasting: Current Insights</p> Open Access Journal of Sports Medicine, Volume 11, 1–28. https://doi.org/10.2147/oajsm.s224919

6 Syeda, U. A., Battillo, D. J., Visaria, A., & Malin, S. K. (2023). The importance of exercise for glycemic control in type 2 diabetes. American Journal of Medicine Open, 9, 100031. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajmo.2023.100031

7 Ho, K. Y., Veldhuis, J. D., Johnson, M. L., Furlanetto, R., Evans, W. S., Alberti, K. G., & Thorner, M. O. (1988). Fasting enhances growth hormone secretion and amplifies the complex rhythms of growth hormone secretion in man. the Journal of Clinical Investigation/the Journal of Clinical Investigation, 81(4), 968–975. https://doi.org/10.1172/jci113450

8 Myers, T. R., & Goldhamer, A. (2020). Fasting. In Elsevier eBooks (pp. 293-300.e4). https://doi.org/10.1016/b978-0-323-43044-9.00037-6

9 Murray, B., & Rosenbloom, C. (2018). Fundamentals of glycogen metabolism for coaches and athletes. Nutrition Reviews, 76(4), 243–259. https://doi.org/10.1093/nutrit/nuy001

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