A reader on Prevention.com asked, "What type of exercise is healthiest on my joints?" Good question! Aging brings on aches and pains, but staying active is crucial to controlling weight and staying healthy. Moving your body also increases blood flow and lubricates joints, ultimately easing pain. Think of how stiff you feel in the morning, compared with once you're up and about! Here's how to blast calories and boost your mood in joint-friendly ways.
Go Low Impact
To burn fat without jarring joints, choose cardio that keeps one foot on the ground at all times, like walking. For severe pain, try swimming or water aerobics, since the water eliminates impact and helps soothe joints. Cycling is another excellent option that can burn about 500 calories an hour. Opt for a recumbent bicycle if you have a sore back.
Stay Straight and Steady
Any activity with turns, pivots, or stops and starts (like tennis) can be uncomfortable because the joints absorb shock. In winter, try cross-country skiing or snowshoeing to burn as many calories as jogging—without stress. Indoors, the elliptical machine moves your body through a safe range of motion with minimal impact.
Strengthen Your Joints
Toning the muscles that surround your knees, hips, and back can reduce pain by improving your posture, alignment, and overall joint mobility. Find targeted moves to try at prevention.com/healthyjoints.
Chris Freytag is a board member of the American Council on Exercise, the star of many Prevention Fitness Systems DVDs, and author of Prevention's Shortcuts to Big Weight Loss (chrisfreytag.com).