There are many issues that can lead to joint problems. Stiffness or pain in your joints is not necessarily motivating for exercising. However, many workouts can get you fit without aggravating your joints. In many cases, the right exercise can even improve your joint issues.
As always, the advice of your doctor comes first, but with their OK try out our top exercises that are easy on your joints while getting you fit. If any exercise gives you sharp shooting pains during or after, that is a warning to stop the workout. But muscle aches and soreness are normal after pushing yourself – just make sure you’re taking in plenty of protein to aid muscle repair and growth.
Also called the cross trainer, this equipment is great for joints friendly cardio. It allows you to pick up a pace using fluid movements. In addition, it helps to build strength along with your whole body so you could stick to just this machine if you felt more comfortable knowing it wouldn’t aggravate any joint issues.
Swimming reduces the pressure on your joints, so it makes for a fantastic workout. Many people find swimming a refreshing way to work out without feeling too hot and sweaty. Exercising in water can be very varied, so you don’t have to worry about becoming bored. Most strokes are full body workouts, but if they weren’t enough classes like spinning, Zumba and aerobics all have their underwater counterparts at many gyms.
Yoga is fantastic for gently building muscle around your joints. So not only is it easy on them, it could also help to alleviate symptoms by building up muscle to support your problem zones. You can start off with a less physically demanding style of yoga as you get used to it. Then as you gain the confidence you might want to take your fitness levels higher with a vinyasa flow or other style that encourages more of a cardio workout alongside strength and flexibility.
Bikram or hot yoga may also help to alleviate some joint pain by exercising when the body is warm and more limber. Take care to cool down and wrap up warm when you leave the studio, however. Otherwise, the quick contrast in temperature could leave you feeling very stiff in your problem areas.
Another benefit of yoga is that it encourages mindfulness and lowers stress. So if you find that your joint issues are causing you anxiety or worry (which in turn may exacerbate your issues), you could get extra benefit from a yoga workout.
In a similar way to yoga, training with weights can gradually strengthen the muscles that assist and protect your joints. Good form is an absolute must, so make sure you get an experienced spotter or trainer if you are starting out. Leg presses, weighted squats or free weights can all help to build up key areas of muscle.
Make sure you keep a low weight/ high rep format and don’t push yourself to lift anything that you couldn’t comfortably do 15 reps with. Limit your weight workout to around 30 minutes and always leave recovery days.
If weights seem overwhelming, just try exercises like hamstring curls, calf raises or step-ups to build your confidence and your muscles.