Is exercise part of your weekly routine? If you are suffering joint pain, then it should be.

Exercise makes your body stronger, more flexible, better able to balance, energises you during the day and makes it easier to rest at night. It helps your body maintain a healthy weight and releases endorphins – our in built pain relief, feel good hormones.

The incredible benefits of exercise are the closest thing we have to a fountain of youth – and it is available to everyone, everywhere. If you experience frequent joint pain, try exercising. It will make you feel better.    

Warm up and cool down

The warmup and cool down are two of the most overlooked parts of any exercise regimen. When you have joint pain, it is crucial to prepare your body for exercise, and rest.

Warm ups don’t have to be time consuming. Spend five minutes walking briskly on the treadmill, especially if you are going to launch into a cardio routine. Or, if you will be doing strength training, stretches loosen up the muscles groups. If you have arthritis or significant joint pain, double the warm up time to stay on the safe side.

The cool down returns your body from a heightened state to a relaxed state. By stretching or simply walking at an ever slower pace for five minutes, you can reduce the lactic acid which causes next-day soreness.

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Modify intensity

Understand your body’s limits to create a sustainable exercise routine. Take running as an example. If you experience pain in your joints, running on hard concrete is likely to exacerbate the friction in the knees and ankles.

When you feel that kind of pain, it’s a signal that your body is far from ready to take on the challenge. Prepare your body first. By walking on softer surfaces like sand or a football oval you are laying the foundation for running in future.

By exercising regularly, and keeping in tune with your body’s signals, you will expand your capabilities to take on higher intensity, higher impact exercises safely within a few months.

Perfect your form

To get the best results out of exercise, pay close attention to your form. Even if the action you are taking is a tiny, repetitive pulse, by concentrating on your posture and controlling the movement, you reduce the risk of injury and stimulate the area of the body you are working so hard to target.  

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Cardiovascular health

Your overall fitness depends on how much oxygen from your lungs can be delivered to every cell in your body. Light to moderate exercise temporarily puts some stress on the cardiovascular system, but builds your capacity to get the heart pumping and blood flowing.

Some of the many fun cardio activities include cycling, rowing, swimming, or elliptical trainers and step-machines at the gym. As your body adapts to the exercise, increase the duration or resistance so the activity remains interesting and challenging. After all, to achieve cardiovascular fitness you need to set aside time for several sessions a week of at least 20 minutes duration.

Build strength

Have you considered weight training? It protects your joints, increases the flow of lubrication to the targeted areas, increases bone density and eases swelling in the joints. Anyone suffering joint pain can get a lot from pumping iron each week.

As you would with any other form of exercise, approach weight training sensibly. Lighter weights and higher repetitions are an achievable and healthy way to exercise. Talk to the instructors at the gym to ensure your technique is spot on for building strength without hurting already painful joints.

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Increase coordination

Exercise disciplines like yoga, tai-chi or pilates are very adaptable for those with limited movement from joint pain. While there may not be barbells in the training room, don’t be fooled into thinking these exercises are easy. In these classes you will be trained to stand with good posture, improve core strength, balance and coordination. These traits and skills don’t come easily. They take work but they also come with the additional benefit of increasing mind-body awareness and relaxation.

No more excuses

Despite the amazing pain-relief and health benefits of exercise, we often find reasons to do anything else with our time. We decide that we are too busy, that our joints hurt too much, or that exercise is difficult or boring. The human brain can invent a million excuses not to exercise, but you also have the power to ignore them and start moving anyway. It might be hard to get started, but exercise can and will turn your joint pain around for good.