Exercise is probably the last thing on your mind if you suffer from joint pain, but it could be just what the doctor ordered. Research shows that staying physically active can combat chronic joint pain by increasing flexibility, reducing fatigue and promoting circulation of fluids to the joint capsule. Exercise also helps to improve your pain threshold to make your joint symptoms more manageable (Source: WebMD).
When exercising to relieve joint pain, you want to find activities that are low-impact. These will improve cardiovascular health and help you build strength in weak or painful joints without making your symptoms worse. Here are some low-impact activities you can try to keep your joints limber and healthy:
The rowing machine is arguably one of the most underutilized cardio machines in the entire gym, but it can be the perfect total-body workout for patients with arthritis or chronic joint pain. Rowing requires you to use all your major muscle groups, so you’re sure to notice stronger arms, legs, core, back, and shoulders. And because the resistance is controlled by the amount of effort you put forth, it’s easy to adjust the intensity of your workout to fit your comfort level.
Aquatic exercise is particularly beneficial for joint pain sufferers because the water reduces joint impact while providing resistance. Swimming is a full-body workout that lengthens and strengthens muscles, improves range of motion and increases cardiovascular fitness. You don’t need to have impeccable form to enjoy the benefits of swimming. Whether you do the backstroke, breaststroke, freestyle, or you simply dog paddle from one end of the pool to the other, you’re sure to enjoy a great workout that strengthens and soothes your joints.
Gyms and fitness centers are full of elliptical users who appear to be effortlessly gliding their way to a leaner, stronger body. But make no mistake, the elliptical provides a challenging workout for your upper and lower body. The elliptical simulates walking, running or climbing, but the gliding movements of this machine reduce impact on your joints for a safe, comfortable workout.
The smooth motions of cycling are easier on joints than higher-impact exercises, and they are great for strengthening weak hips and knees. If you’re new to indoor cycling, you may want to ask a fitness instructor or personal trainer to assist you with setting up your bike. Proper bike settings and good form are essential to keeping joints supported and injury-free.