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Experiencing joint pain? Try one of these activities

August 5, 2015

Joint and muscle pain can affect people of all ages. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explained that there are currently over 40 million individuals diagnosed with arthritis in the country alone and approximately 350 million worldwide. Although there are more than 200 forms of the condition, the majority of them cause stiffness, swelling, redness and chronic pain surrounding the joints. This can inhibit mobility and make staying physically active a challenge. 

Studies show that as a result, arthritis patients have an increased risk of developing conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes, which often play a role in the onset of serious heart problems. As exercising is an essential factor to healthy aging, adults with arthritis shouldnt view physical activity as out of the question. There are activities that enable people with joint pain to work out without experiencing negative effects. If youve been diagnosed with arthritis or experience stiff or sore joints due to an injury, check with your doctor to see if these low-impact exercises will benefit you.

1. Yoga Johns Hopkins Medicine explained that yoga has many physiological advantages. Dont be fooled by its meditative nature, as yoga has been found to have many physical health benefits as well, including enhanced repository endurance and increased muscle strength. It also improves flexibility and balance, which is crucial if your joint discomfort has made your muscles stiff.

Yoga is a great way to ease yourself back into exercising.
Yoga is a great way to ease yourself back into exercising with joint discomfort.

If you feel like you need an energy boost or would benefit from some positive thinking, yoga has also been closely linked to reduced anxiety and irritability. The National Arthritis Foundation recommended restorative yoga, which includes poses and props that support the body so minimal or no muscular effort is necessary to maintain positions. Many people practice this type of yoga to help relax, stretch and restore their muscles while improving balance. Iyengar yoga, which focuses on individual alignment, is another form that usually caters to people with joint pain, depending on the specific class - its always a good idea to ask the instructor what the class entails before participating. Try a class at your independent living community or join a local gym.

2. Cycling  Whether youre on a stationary or mobile bicycle, cycling will get your heart rate going without putting the impact on joints that other aerobic exercises like running do. Bicycling works the quads and is particularly effective at building muscle in the ankles and feet for those experiencing problems in these areas. Healthline noted that biking helps to slow the progression of many forms of arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis, the second most prevalent type of the disease. It also reduces morning stiffness and improves leg strength for enhanced balance. 

Health magazine suggested cycling for 10 minutes at a time when youre first getting started to ensure that you dont push yourself too far. Once you feel comfortable, begin building up to 30 and then 40 minutes two to three times a week. You have multiple options when it comes to how you cycle. For example, you can bike outside - in a group or solo - or join a spinning class to engage in a social setting while you improve your physical health. 

"Water provides 12 times the resistance as air."

3. Water aerobics Like many aerobic exercises, water aerobics improve endurance and help build muscle. According to the National Arthritis Foundation, water provides 12 times the resistance as air, so youre working hard and burning more calories than you would doing the same exercises on land.

Meanwhile, water buoyancy supports the body and reduces stress put on the joints. Try participating in a water aerobics class, which normally includes lifting small free-weights while dancing to music. Pool walking is another way to work out in the water, and it improves balance, range of motion and cardiovascular fitness. 

Heated pools - between 82 and 88 degrees - are often used by arthritis patients for relieving pain, as the warmth tends to soothe sore or swollen joints. This doesnt mean that cooler water will aggravate the muscles or that you wont reap the same benefits as you would when exercising in warm water, but if youre experiencing a lot of joint pain and looking for a routine that reduces these symptoms, try to find a heated pool for the best results.