Joint-Friendly Exercises Safe for Your Home Gym
Going to the gym is not the only way to stay physically fit. For many people, working out at home provides more flexibility and efficiency. It all depends on how you use your time and equipment to maximize your effort.
If you opt for a workout program endorsed by a doctor and suitable for your joints, you can achieve an effective exercise routine within the comfort of your own home. Make a resolution this year to get moving for your health.
Cardiovascular Exercise is Essential for Your Health
Approximately 35 percent of workers who have jobs that can be done remotely are opting to work from their own residences, according to Pew Research Center. While this is convenient and cost-effective for employers and workers, millions of Americans spend much of their day in a sitting position. Being sedentary can increase the risk for many chronic conditions like obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease and exacerbate joint conditions like arthritis.
As you age, you must be proactive about protecting joints, bones and muscles because they support your body and help you move.
Regular cardio exercise can benefit you in the following ways:
- Improve your overall well-being
- Enhance your learning, thinking and judgment skills
- Help you manage your weight
- Reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety
- Lower your risk for metabolic syndrome
Daily exercise can also help you maintain balance and prevent falls that lead to hip fractures, which can impact your mobility and health.
Popular Types of Home Cardio Exercise
During the winter months, it is important to get the proper amount of physical exercise, especially if you are working from home. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity cardiovascular exercise per week, even for older people.
The stationary bike, treadmill and rowing machine are three of the most common pieces of equipment people use in their home. Before deciding about which to purchase, it is wise to talk to an orthopedist about what type of exercise equipment will be best long-term for your joint safety and your health.
If you are looking for a low-impact cardio exercise that will not strain your knee joints, the stationary bike is a smart choice. Because it is not weight-bearing, it will not benefit your bones as much as walking or running. However, if you have joint pain or have had a total joint replacement, the stationary bike may be the best piece of equipment for you to use because it creates less wear and tear on knees and hips. Setting up the bike correctly is essential to prevent injury during exercise, so educate yourself on proper setup and good form when you ride.
Almost everyone can exercise on a treadmill, even if you have arthritis. The key is exercising safely. The treadmill is a weight-bearing exercise, which helps maintain and strengthen your bones. If you have had a knee or hip injury, running on a treadmill is not advisable. However, walking would provide significant benefits. Your orthopedist can make recommendations about appropriate speed and distance when you use the treadmill. Your goal is to improve cardiovascular fitness without stressing your joints.
Rowing machines offer one of the best cardio workouts in a short amount of time because you are using every major muscle group in the upper body. The rowing machine would not be a good option for someone who has shoulder pain or has reduced range of motion in the shoulder. Instead, it would be more beneficial to use a treadmill or stationary bicycle that targets the lower extremities. The rowing machine is not weight-bearing, so it would not help prevent osteoporosis or osteopenia, but it expends more energy than the stationary bike and treadmill.
Which Exercise is Best for Your Joint Health?
There is no perfect workout that works for everyone. Along with cardio exercise, it is also important to lift weights and do muscle-strengthening activities. Muscle mass and strength reduce with age, so older adults need to balance cardio exercise with weightlifting. You can purchase free weights and add basic weightlifting routines to supplement your cardiovascular workouts. Keeping bones, joints and muscles healthy will help you continue your daily activities and maintain your independence.
Other ways to stay healthy when working from home include the following:
- Use a standing desk.
- Sit on an exercise ball.
- Walk during your lunch hour.
- Elevate your feet to reduce leg pain and swelling.
- Take regular breaks to stretch and move.
- Enroll in physical therapy if you experience pain.
You should always consult a physician before beginning a new exercise routine. An orthopedist can help you choose exercises that are best for your age group and fitness level, especially if you have had a knee or hip replacement.