Want healthy joints? Here’s what our health coaches recommend!
Physical activity is notorious for its beneficial long-term effects in chronic disease prevention and overall health and longevity. However, arthritis and joint pain can make movement uncomfortable and difficult, setting the stage for an inactive lifestyle. As a result, it is crucial to maintain healthy joints so you can keep your body moving smoothly and safely!
Did you know that staying hydrated can help protect joints during exercise? The surface of the cartilage in our joints contains a lubricant called synovial fluid, which allows our bones to move smoothly past one another. Our cartilage naturally leaks out synovial fluid daily, and if this fluid is not replaced, it can lead to increased friction in our joints. Over time, this can wear down the protective cartilage and lead to joint pain. Water helps us to replenish the synovial fluid in our joints, and physical activity helps to increase blood flow and circulate this fluid. In turn, this promotes smooth movement, helping you to exercise comfortably and reap the benefits of physical activity!
Exercise itself is also a very important practice for maintaining joint health. Regular movement helps to strengthen the muscles around your joints and can actually help control joint pain and swelling by replenishing cartilage lubrication and reducing stiffness.
If you have joint pain, be sure to check with your healthcare provider before starting a new exercise routine. They might suggest visiting a physical therapist to find specific exercises that are right for you. However, if low-impact exercise is safe for you, here are some activities that you could try.
Not only can you swim laps in the deep end, but you can also go to the shallow end for circuit training. Consider a resistance movement circuit including squat jumps, lunges and front kicks. Or, hang on to the edge of the pool and kick your legs behind you, alternating between periods of activity and rest (ex. 30 seconds on, then 30 seconds off for 5-10 rounds).
2. Rowing Machine
This piece of equipment is generally underused; however, the motion is very smooth and because you are sitting, it has a relatively low impact on your knees and ankles. If you enjoy intense workouts, this is a great machine to use because it gets your heart rate way up! Try doing 10 rounds of 200m rows as fast as you can, allowing for 30 seconds to a minute of rest in between rounds.
3. Gentle Yoga
Yoga is a great low impact activity to help improve flexibility and overall stability. Stretching poses can decrease compression in your joints while stability and strengthening poses can help your muscles to better support your joints. Yoga also encourages listening to your body, with a focus on avoiding movements and poses that are painful and embracing the ones that make your body feel great!
4. Elliptical Machine
If you enjoy walking, running or climbing but are limited by painful joints, this machine may be for you. The machine allows you to simulate these movements with less impact on your joints.