Cardio that isn’t too bad on your joints

Do you know 54 million Americans have low bone density? What it means that they have a higher chance of breaking their bone and should be concerned about their bone health.

Can people with weak joints exercise?


The next common thought is – to avoid injury they should stay away from exercising. Wrong. In fact, not exercising can lead to obesity which will further burden their joints.

The trick is to design an exercise plan keeping your health problems, fitness levels, balance, level of physical activity and body mechanics in mind. You can consult a doctor or a specially trained physical expert to help you design a unique exercise plan.

Combined with the right kind of diet, calcium, Vitamin D, the exercise regime will not only help them move ahead on the fitness journey, reduce stiffness, and also strengthen their bones.

I have weak joints, can I do cardio?


Cardio exercises are one of the most simple, effective and fast ways of losing weight (hence reduce the extra burden off your joints).

People with sensitive joints can add low impact or simple weighted cardio exercise into their routine to help them increase their heart rate, burn fat, improve bone density – all without hurting their joints.

Don’t be fooled – Low impact doesn’t necessarily mean low intensity. If done right simple exercise such as walking, biking will help you lose weight raise without angering your joints. Whereas weight-bearing cardio exercises are not about picking up weights, they are simple exercises that get your heart rate up done and are done on your feet against the gravity. The pressure your body-weight puts on the bones sends the signals to the brain to strengthen them. 

Cardio that isn’t too bad for joints

Some of the basic weight-bearing/Low impact cardio exercises that will certainly leave you sweating without hurting your joints are –

  • Elliptical training machines – One of the most effective ways to burn calories especially for those with sensitive joints is the elliptical machine. The combined movement of arms and legs helps burn more calories, improve blood flow and strengthen the core. And since your feet are always at the pedal the chances of an injury are reduced considerably.
  • Swimming – A water workout is a weak joint’s best friend. The water with its buoyancy takes the weight off your joints, supporting them while you burn those calories. From freestyle to backstroke to water aerobics, there is a lot to do in the pool. 
  • Planks – Bad posture and a weak core add more stress to the joints. Adding Planks to your exercise regime will improve the spine health, correct the posture and strengthen the core. You can also add exercises like Side Bridge and mountain climbing, depending on your fitness level.
  • Walking – One of the easiest ways to get your cardio is walking. Walking has great benefits and you can choose between walking outside/treadmill, the speed, the duration depending on your fitness level. Remember to choose the right shoe. Also, people with weak knees should avoid walking on the treadmill.
  • Rowing – This is for the one with weak knees. It works on your arms, shoulder, back, and core, burns calories super-fast without stressing the knees. You can burn as much as 350 calories in an hour, without even standing up.         
  • Cycling – Whether you decide to cycle outside or a stationary bike, this low impact cardio exercise will burn through your fat, strengthen your knees (with the right resistance level and posture) and build your stamina. At a moderate pace, you can burn as much as 350 calories in 45 minutes.
  • Step-ups – Climbing steps whether on an aerobic bench or stairs irrespective of the pace can burn as much as 400 calories in 45 minutes. It is an excellent way to get a total body workout, improve your heart health and strengthen your legs.
  • Low impact Aerobics – If you are someone who gets bored of their workout routine really soon, try aerobics.  Doing low impact range of motion exercise or simply dancing to the peppy music is a fun way to burn those calories.  

Things to remember

  • Don’t forget to warm up/stretch before beginning the exercise routine
  • Honor your body’s limit and keep the impact low
  • If you are feeling stiff, you can use a warm compression to loosen the joints
  • To minimize the chances of an injury – Move gently. Any sudden action can lead to loss of balance and sometimes even a fall.
  • Don’t overdo it. Remember the trick for going longer is going slow
  • Maintain your calcium and vitamin D levels
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle

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Sonam Gulati
Sonam Gulati
Sonam Gulati - A wife, a mom, a dog-mom, a fitness enthusiast (in no particular order) has been practicing yoga for the last 12 years. Her journey began due to chronic back pain (thanks to a long sitting job) and post-natal depression. The pain birthed an urge to find a strong body and mind (for herself, for her child) and ended up transforming her. Working through deep-rooted feelings and trauma, releasing them layer by layer, her life today is a testament to the healing power of Yoga and how it enables a mind, body, and soul union. She has been writing on various aspects of health and relationships for over 8 years, journaling through her journey.
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