Keep moving: Low-impact workouts to ease joint pain and boost overall health

Ease into fitness with this low-impact workout

If you struggle with nagging joint pain, getting active can help reduce pain by strengthening the muscles that support and protect your joints. Luckily, you don’t need to trek for miles or suffer through intensive aerobics classes to keep up with your fitness. A brief, low-impact workout may be all you need to maintain healthy joints and boost your overall well-being.

“Any kind of low-impact activity where you’re getting out there moving without putting an excessive level of stress on the joints is going to help reduce joint pain and improve your overall health,” says Jason Baareman, PT, DPT at Augusta University Health.

Take a walk

For starters, walking is a low-impact, tried-and-true joint helper. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends walking 30 minutes per day, most days of the week.

“Walking is a fantastic, low-impact exercise, especially for seniors with arthritis or pregnant women who have joint pain,” says Dr. Baareman. “Be sure to check with your doctor or physical therapist about the appropriate amount of exercise before beginning a new workout routine.”

If you can’t carve out 30 minutes in your schedule for a daily walk, Dr. Baareman recommends simply adding in steps when you can throughout the day.

“I tell my patients to take the stairs instead of the elevator or parking further away from their destination. Those extra steps really add up to better joint health.”

Pedal away pain

For fans of exercise, a visit to the gym can be a great way to soothe aching joints. Dr. Baareman recommends taking a spin on a stationary bike for 20 to 30 minutes daily. He also suggests using an elliptical machine or weight machines set at a comfortable weight.

For severe joint pain, he recommends swimming laps, water aerobics or walking back and forth in a pool.

“If somebody has significant arthritis, it may be a little more painful. I would suggest starting an exercise routine in the pool because you’re more buoyant,” he says.

Workout at home

You can also do low-impact exercises at home with the same great benefits. Dr. Baareman suggests straight leg lifts. Simply lie on your back and lift one leg off the floor at a time doing 15 to 20 repetitions on each leg. Or try mini wall squats. Stand with your back flush against a wall and slide down to a 90-degree angle doing 15 to 20 repetitions.

“Finding a few gentle activities that you can do on a daily basis will really help to improve your range of motion and reduce pain,” says Dr. Baareman. “The key is to keep moving and you’ll be amazed at the results.”

Augusta University Jaguar Sports Medicine is a leader in preventing and treating sports-related injuries for the athlete in all of us. Our focus is as much on prevention as it is treatment, whether you have a complex, multi-ligament knee injury or a simple sprain or strain. Make an appointment by visiting augustahealth.org/sports-medicine or call (706) 721-2741.

The Augusta University Ortho On-Demand clinic also provides walk-in care treating those with sports, work and home-related injuries. Call 706-721-2741 for any questions or learn more at augustahealth.org/ondemand. No appointments or referrals required. Hours: Monday through Thursday 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday 1-4 p.m.

Know your joint health. Start by taking this Healthy Joint Quiz.

About the author

Augusta University Health

Based in Augusta, Georgia, Augusta University Health is a world-class health care network, offering the most comprehensive primary, specialty and subspecialty care in the region. Augusta University Health provides skilled, compassionate care to its patients, conducts leading-edge clinical research and fosters the medical education and training of tomorrow’s health care practitioners. Augusta University Health is a not-for-profit corporation that manages the clinical operations associated with Augusta University.