Swimming is an ideal form of exercise for those suffering from joint pain. NEBH Orthopedic surgeon and joint replacement specialist James Nairus, MD, explains that swimming raises your heart rate and builds your cardiovascular fitness without putting pressure on your joints the way running or jogging will. Exercise in the water can be an entire-body workout, toning and building strength in nearly all of your muscles. If you’re looking to achieve the health benefits of exercising in water but aren’t excited by the repetition of swimming laps, here are a few ideas of other water activities you can try.
Aqua Walking or Jogging
Aqua walking or jogging is essentially the same as walking or jogging on land, but without the pressure on your joints. The natural resistance that water provides helps to strengthen your muscles as you walk through waist-high water, keeping your core muscles tight and your back straight.
Aqua jogging can be a good option for runners suffering from injury but looking to keep their running muscles in shape, as aqua jogging mimics the form of running but without the impact pressure.
Water aerobics classes offer the benefits of both aerobic and aquatic exercise. It’s similar to land aerobics in its focus on endurance and cardio training, but it also adds the component of resistance training. The water’s buoyancy will cushion stiff and painful joints or fragile bones that might be injured by the impact of aerobics done on land.
First developed by an Italian doctor as a form of physical therapy, aqua biking has become a popular form of exercise. Stationary bikes are placed in a pool, and you cycle against the resistance of the water. If you’ve always loved biking but experience knee pain, aqua cycling is a great alternative that will allow you to build your endurance while continuing a sport you love.
For those who love dancing and are motivated by a group class setting, Aqua Zumba is a great opportunity for exercise. It combines some traditional water aerobics elements, like jumping jacks or high knees, with the merengue and salsa moves you might find in a Zumba class. Because the dancing keeps you moving throughout the class, it provides a great cardio workout that will strengthen both your upper and lower body muscle groups.
Check your local recreation center or fitness center to see if they offer these classes. If you can’t find one, water aerobics or aqua walking/jogging are fun to try alone or with friends.