Whether you suffer from arthritis or just have occasional joint pain, it can make living an active lifestyle very difficult. However, as any medical professional will tell you, just because you have joint pain doesn’t excuse you from needing to exercise to keep healthy. Adapting to your needs as you age is probably the most important part of preventing injury or pain while exercising—for this reason, we are here to help with some low impact exercises to add to your routine.
Many local churches and spiritual centers are beginning to offer “Yoga for Seniors” classes, however these can also be available to people who have rheumatoid or regular arthritis. These classes offer modified, low-impact techniques and routines that are designed to keep pressure off of your joints, while still working out and stretching your core. Strong abdominal muscles are essential to preventing hernias and preventing back and neck pain. Be sure to practice yoga on a flat and padded surface, as to avoid unnecessary pressure on your joints.
This ancient tradition of Chinese Martial Arts are becoming more and more popular, due to their relaxing nature. Practitioners of Tai Chi can be found almost everywhere, as it is one of China’s oldest martial arts traditions. In early China it was primarily used for spiritual purposes, but as its influence grew, it became recognized as a great endurance and strength building exercise. Fluidity and strength are key to Tai Chi’s technique, making it a great low-impact exercise for people of all ages.
Because our bodies are mostly made of water, we generally float in water. If you have access to a pool, it can be a great way to get some additional exercise while keeping pressure off of your joints. Be sure to consider your swimming ability, especially when deciding to swim alone. Spending time in the water decreases the overall impact on your joints because you are not subject to your full body weight resting on your feet, ankles, knees, and hips. For this same reason, you should avoid running or hiking on high elevation trails.
If you aren’t a strong swimmer, there are still exercises you can do in the pool to get your blood flowing. Physical therapists and assisted living facilities are spending more money everyday on getting seniors into the water for this new low-impact exercise craze. Water aerobics can be done in your pool at home or in a class setting, but it is really easy to get started. Some of these exercises require pool noodles or other flotation devices, but the idea is generally the same: get your body moving while keeping pressure off of your joints, using the resistance of the water as an advantage.
Whether at home, in public, or at your local gym, stair climbing can be a great way to keep your leg muscles strong and flexible. This exercise is relatively easy to perform, but if you need some extra stability you can certainly hold onto the railing for support. Begin by placing one foot on the first stair, then rest your weight on that foot for one count, then bring the other foot to join it and reverse the position for another count. The suspension and shifting of your weight in quick succession allows you to get your blood flowing with minimal impact.