Exercise Your Joints

Find creative ways to move without the pain

Too often, people who have joint pain shy away from exercise. Don’t be one of those people, urges exercise physiologist Heather Nettle. Instead, she says, get creative about how and when to move your body.

If walking and running are painful for you, use an elliptical machine, which simulates walking or running without putting excessive pressure on the joints, says Ms. Nettle, Coordinator of Exercise Physiology Services for Cleveland Clinic Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation. Biking, rowing and doing pool exercises also are easy on the joints, she says. “Try multiple options before completely disregarding exercise altogether.”
And if your joints start hurting partway into your exercise routine, just stop. “You don’t have to go a full hour,” she says. “Anything beyond 10 minutes of cardiovascular is considered good. Exercise multiple times a day instead of doing it all at once.”

In addition to low-impact cardiovascular activities, do some form of resistance training two days a week, Ms. Nettle suggests. That would include Pilates, calisthenics, machine or free weights, bands and the exercise ball. But don’t combine cardio and resistance training in the same workout because that tends to be counterproductive, she says. “If you're strength training the right way, you're not doing the cardio right, and vice versa,” she says. “Wearing ankle weights while walking, for example, just puts more stress on the joints.”

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