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Five Low-Impact Exercises for Joint Pain

Seniors--exercisesBy Jessica Theifels

You’ve been active most of your life — running, cycling, playing tennis — but what if achy joint pain is making those activities you once loved too challenging? Well, luckily, joint pain doesn’t have to stop you from moving.

You simply need to adjust to the low-impact versions of exercises that support painful or weak joints while building muscle and improving heart health. First, talk with your doctor to get the go-ahead to exercise.

Then, try the following joint-friendly activities.

Who knows, you may even find your new, favorite go-to workout.

Rowing Machine
You’ve probably seen this piece of equipment in the gym a hundred times but never used it. The rowing machine gives you a great low-impact cardio workout that also strengthens your whole body, from legs and core to upper back and arms.

Here’s a simple rowing workout to get you started:
• 400 meters slow (This is your warm up) (3-5 minutes)
• 200 meters, effort 4 out of 10 (exertion based on a 10-point scale, 1 being minimal) (45 seconds)
• 400 meters, effort 6 out of 10 (90 seconds)
• 200 meters, effort 8 out of 10 (45 seconds)
• 400 meters, effort 2 out of 10 (This is your cool-down) (90 seconds)

Gentle Yoga
Yoga is an amazing way to rejuvenate your mind and body as you build strength and mental focus. A gentle-yoga class will be kind to your joints while helping you to maintain flexibility and stability.

Most classes will be good for joint pain; the key is to avoid certain poses and movements that might put stress on your joints, especially your knees.

Ultimately, the yoga teacher will be your best guide for determining what is ideal for your aching joints. Speak with him before class and he’ll make sure to help you with modifications during the session.

TRX
You may be familiar with the the black and yellow straps hanging in your gym. Often called suspension training, the classic TRX straps use gravity and a person’s body weight to help build strength while easing the load on weak or painful knee joints.

Starting with TRX can seem intimidating, so ask a personal trainer to assist you with traditional exercises that involve pushing and pulling (think squats, lunges, pull-ups and push-ups).

Swimming
If you know how to swim, get back into the pool! Swimming is similar to yoga in that the movements are relaxing as well as easy on your joints.

Luckily, many large gyms and community centers have a pool you can use year-round. In addition to swimming, you can do aquatic training. With the added challenge of water resistance, you can build even more strength.

Elliptical
Go to any gym and you’ll find a row of ellipticals. These machines let you simulate a walking, running or climbing motion, but with less strain on your joints. Because you can vary the intensity from low to high, the elliptical can substitute for running or enable you to take your walking routine to the next level.

A 2011 study published in Gait Posture Journal found that elliptical training significantly reduced weight-bearing stress on joints compared with other physical activity, including running and walking on a treadmill or outside.

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