Exercise without joint stress
Low-impact exercises offer all the benefits of a more strenuous activity such as running without putting added stress on the muscles and joints.
Regular swimming and walking, for example, can reduce the risk of heart disease, improve fitness levels and manage weight without straining the joints.
Check out some of the unique benefits of these low impact sports.
Walking is of course first on the list. This is something we do daily and is an easy one to get in because you don’t need any fancy equipment. It is absolutely free and it doesn’t even require transportation. Just slip on some comfy sneakers, clothes and possibly a rain jacket lately and get out into the fresh air.
Walking is considered a cardiovascular activity, meaning it gets the heart and lungs working in order to supply the muscles with oxygen-rich blood. The muscles need oxygen in order to move effectively. Do remember that a light stroll will not give you those effects, so try to keep your walk at a moderate pace that allows you to raise your heart rate – you should be feeling breathless.
For beginners, get some friends together and start off with a few scheduled hourly walks each week. For advanced walkers, try to do a 10k walk at the beginning of the week and then a few 5k walks in between. Try to find a group that walks a longer distance regularly.
This is one low-impact exercise that I have yet to master. However, for those of you that are comfortable in the water, laps in a pool or the ocean – if you can brave the temperatures in the winter – offer a great year 'round workout without overdoing any muscle or joint in particular. The water also supports your body as you swim, meaning it is a non-weight-bearing activity. The best part is that swimming is something that can be done over the course of your lifetime and you won’t need to stop as you get older.
Every time you go swimming, try something different – swim a little further, or try water aerobics or water running which has the same benefits as running without the impact on your joints.
There are so many varieties of cycling that it is easy to find one to enjoy. There is indoor group cycling such as spinning; there are Peloton classes online and of course outdoor cycling. Cycling is great because it is a workout that doesn’t involve any heavy impact on the joints, nor does it put the body under too much stress. Like brisk walking, cycling is considered a cardiovascular activity as it benefits the heart and lungs, plus it works lots of different muscles.
In order to get the most out of cycling, try and get at least 1.5 to 2 hours of riding per week. Cycling to work or riding on the weekend can help you achieve this goal. You could also join a local cycling group to help with consistency.
Exercise classes such as yoga, Pilates and Tai Chi are taken slowly and are great options for low-impact sports. These activities also build on strength and flexibility the longer you practice.
Fitness isn’t the only benefit of yoga. Research has shown that practising yoga consistently for just three months can reduce anxiety, fatigue and stress as it lowers cortisol levels, one of our primary stress hormones.
So don’t forget that even though you may need to lower your impact, you can still get in shape and release stress through some of the activities above.
Just stay consistent and B-Active For Life!
Betty Doyling is a certified fitness trainer and figure competitor with more than a decade of experience. Look for B. ActiveForLife on Facebook