Exercise is hugely beneficial no matter what your age, and staying fit has both physical and mental health benefits. It can boost your mood, improve self-esteem and generally make you feel happier and more content, and improve from general fitness and mobility to increasing your life expectancy and helping prevent illness and disease.
But joint problems can get in the way and often deter people from getting out and about, whether for a cycle, a trip to the gym or simply a walk around the park. And sometimes joint problems arise when you exercise, again potentially putting a stop to your efforts to get fit. However, exercise is very important if you have joint problems and can reduce the impact of such issues. But it’s very important to exercise in the right way, in order to ease any existing issues and prevent further damage that exercise, done wrong, could bring about.
With that in mind, here are some everyday exercises that don’t put undue strain on joints, and which can actually help reduce the strain on your joints...right after a few that you really should avoid!
Exercises to avoid
While it can be a great exercise for someone in full health (and ideally the flush of youth), running is a high impact exercise that can only exacerbate joint problems in the knees and hips.
This is another high impact, intensive sport that is certainly no good for your joints. It’s also an exercise that involves a lot of changing of direction, which again can cause further joint problems for the knees and hips.
As with basketball tennis involves a lot of quick direction changing. It also puts strain on knees and hips, as well as shoulders and elbows. One to avoid.
Step aerobics and other exercises that involve jumping are best avoided too, to protect joints and prevent further damage.
Exercises to minimise joint problems
Walking is a fantastic exercise for pretty much everybody. You can do it wherever you are, it’s gentle on your joints and it’s a low impact exercise, meaning it won’t exacerbate any hip joint issues you may already have. Try and get into a habit of going for a daily walk, perhaps first thing in the morning, at lunchtime, after work. It really doesn’t matter, just get out there and get walking.
Swimming is another exercise that is very low impact, yet highly beneficial. It helps you tone muscles throughout the body and doesn’t place any undue strain on your joints, thereby preventing further damage that other forms of exercise could cause.
Cycling is a fantastic way to get out and explore, whether you’re a dedicated mountain biker, a road cyclist or just an amateur who enjoys a ride down to the local shops. It’s also a low impact sport that puts very little stress on your knees or your hips.
Practically every gym has an elliptical trainer, or cross trainer machine installed. Elliptical training can simulate stair climbing, walking or running without the joint strain that such activities would usually involve.
Range of motion exercises
This kind of exercise is designed to reduce stiffness in your joints, and in particular the hips and knees:
- Sitting knee flexion - Sitting on the edge of a chair, extend a leg until it’s parallel with the floor, or just as much as you’re able. Hold for two seconds, lower and switch legs, repeating ten times.
- Sitting knee extension - Sit down in a chair and lift one knee, holding your shin in your hands. Pull your shin towards you, hold for two seconds and release. Switch sides, repeating ten times.
A number of strengthening exercises are recommended to people with joint issues, as well as those recovering from procedures such as hip replacement surgery. These include:
- Mini wall squats - Stand with feet shoulder width apart, head and back against a wall. Squat so your knees are at a 30 degree angle and rise to standing. Repeat this ten times.
- Sit to stand - Slowly stand up from a seated position in a chair. Your feet should be shoulder width apart and you should repeat 30 times, using armrests as support if you need.
- One leg balance - With one hand on a surface for support, lift one leg, balancing on the other for ten seconds. Repeat on the other side.
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