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.”