No matter your age, exercise is always important. Regular exercise keeps your heart healthy and promotes strong bones and muscles. It also boosts mood and energy, helps you look better, fights depression and keeps you feeling younger.
With age, however, often comes joint pain due to joint disorders such arthritis or bursitis, making exercise painful. Both osteoarthritis and bursitis cause inflammation in the joint, making that joint stiff and achy, if not painful. Exercise can exacerbate joint pain due to the impact on the joints with each step or movement.
When you walk on level ground, the force of each step on your knees is equal to one-and-a-half times your body weight. A 200-pound man is actually putting the force of 300 pounds on his knees when he walks. Walking on an incline further increases impact.
If you suffer from joint pain, the best exercises are low-impact exercises that do not put added stress on your knees and hips. Here are five low-impact exercises that are easy on the joints.
Stationary bicycling. Both upright and recumbent (sitting) stationary bikes provide an alternative form of aerobic exercise without putting pressure on the joints.
Elliptical trainer. On an elliptical trainer, your feet are on pedals suspended off the ground. Rather than picking up your feet for each “step,” the pedals move in a circular, gliding motion, removing the impact while mimicking the motion of walking or jogging.
Water exercise. Water counteracts gravity, providing a weightless environment for exercise. Without gravity, you have more mobility and simple exercises done on land are less painful when performed in water. Whether you choose to swim laps or participate in a group water aerobics class, water exercise is one of the best forms of low-impact exercises for those with joint pain.
Rowing machine. Rowing is one of the few true full-body workouts. A workout on the rowing machine is not only low-impact; it also adds variety and fun to the usual treadmill or elliptical workouts. Like other machines, you can adjust the intensity of your workout to suit your fitness level. Rowing will strengthen your legs, back, core, arms and shoulders.
Yoga. Yoga is a form of exercise that improves posture, reduces stress and increases flexibility and mobility. The slow movements of yoga are great for building strength and balance. When you pick up the speed of your yoga workout, you’ll increase the cardio effects and reap even more benefits.
No matter what exercises you choose, be sure to get in both strength and cardiovascular exercises each week. To keep your mind and body strong and healthy, aim to get 30 minutes of exercise three to five days each week.
Before you begin an exercise routine, we recommend that you check in with your physician to ensure the exercise is safe for you. Your doctor may also recommend alternative forms of low-impact exercise other than those listed above.