There’s no question that exercise is good for you. But sometimes, exercise can lead to pain and stiffness throughout the body. That may be because you’re doing too much, doing things improperly, or choosing the wrong exercises. The pounding and hammering that certain high-impact activities put on joints can make anyone feel sore.
But that doesn’t mean you have to hang up your cross-trainers. Just the opposite. Exercise can strengthen muscles and help control your weight, which can help you feel less achy 24/7. But oh, the irony. Exercising too much can make you feel achy. But you need to exercise to feel less achy!
So what to do? First off, it’s crucial to ease into whatever activity you’re doing with about five minutes of easy movement. That gets the blood flowing to your muscles, tissues, and tendons so they’ll be ready to go. Cooling down on the backend is just as important, to gradually reduce the temperature of all your muscles, diminishing stiffness and soreness.
Hydration is also essential. Your body needs water to regulate body temperature, transport nutrients throughout the body, and lubricate joints. If you don’t drink enough, you may experience fatigue, muscle cramps, dizziness, or more serious symptoms. (To help your body absorb the water you’re drinking, consider taking Replace® SR Sustained Release Electrolytes.)
Lastly, choosing the right exercise is key. Here are some of our favorite that are easy on the joints.
Just because you don’t break out in a sweat doesn’t mean your body isn’t working hard. Swimming is a whole-body workout, exercising your heart, increasing endurance, improving muscle strength, and increasing flexibility. And because you’re in the water there’s absolutely no banging on the joints. An added bonus: because it’s just you and the water, there are no distractions from the outside world. The repetition of the strokes and paddling up and down the length of the pool can be very soothing and meditative.
Make no mistake. Yoga is not only good for improving flexibility and muscle tone, it’s also good for keeping your heart healthy. Yoga postures involve deep breathing and can put you into a meditative state, which can help lower stress and blood pressure. And the postures can benefit your heart just as conventional exercise, such as brisk walking, can. In one meta-analysis of 32 randomized controlled studies, Harvard researchers found that, compared to non-exercisers, adults who practice asana- or posture-based yoga not only have significantly better blood pressure, but significantly better blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels (and a healthier body weight!).
Building strong muscles around the joints to support and protect them from injury without putting any strain on the joints … What could be better? Don’t be intimidated by the name. Resistance training, toning, and weight training are all the same thing. The key is to work your muscles by using opposing force. That could be working with dumbbells, barbells, exercise machines, resistance bands, or even cans of soup!
Always make sure to do things slowly and with proper form. If you’ve never lifted weights before, a session or two with a personal trainer can help set you up for success.
An added bonus for those who find that losing weight or keeping it off gets more difficult with age, strength training can help. Muscle burns more calories than any other tissue in the body, so you’ll be burning more calories all day (and night) long. And since muscle takes up much less space than fat, putting on a pound of muscle while taking off a pound of fat will make you look more toned.
Now, get out there and go pain free!