Joint-friendly summer exercise

Exercise is essential for keeping the musculoskeletal system and the entire organism fit and healthy. Choosing physical activities that you enjoy will help you stick with them, but be careful to choose wisely. Whatever sport you practice, be safe, and be watchful not to strain your joints too much, as overstraining can result in negative after-effects – if not immediately, then in the future.

There are many different types of joint-friendly sports to choose from. You can have a lot of fun with them, burn calories along the way, and your body will thank you for it.

Cycling is perfect for stimulating and strengthening your cardiovascular system. It is also an ideal sport to compensate for sitting at an office desk all day long. Cycling is a low-impact, linear exercise, during which the knees perform a gradual, consistent rotational movement without having to bear the full body weight. What’s more is that cycling is an incredibly versatile activity: you can explore nature while enjoying a beautiful bicycle tour or, when the weather is less inviting, you can stay indoors and work out on a stationary bike at home or at the gym. And why not ride your bike to work? That way, you start off your day with an invigorating exercise, and on your way back home, you can take it down a gear and relax.

Nordic Walking, originally developed as a method of summer training for top athletes, has grown swiftly in popularity. Its technique is easy to learn and its fitness benefits are comparable to jogging but with the added advantage of not straining the knees as much. Even though the use of Nordic Walking poles reduces the load on weight-bearing joints, it is advised that you invest in a pair of shoes specifically designed to support and cushion your foot as it rolls from heel to toe. It is also more joint-friendly to walk on forest soil and other soft natural surfaces rather than on concrete and tarmac pathways.

Inline Skating is another very good alternative to jogging and an excellent aerobic activity that benefits both your body and your mind. While it burns effectively as many calories as running, inline skating has the low impact advantage of generating up to half the impact shock to joints, ligaments and tendons that running creates. Other notable health benefits that result from a regular program of inline skating activities are the improvement of muscle endurance and strength, the increase in cardio and respiratory endurance, better flexibility, balance and coordination.

Swimming is a fabulous all-round workout. In the summer time, it’s the perfect exercise choice to burn calories while cooling down your body at the same time. Swimming is a great way to strengthen your back and to increase all-over conditioning without putting excess stress on your joints. On land, you have to work against the force of gravity which pulls you down. When you swim, your body is supported by the water, it pushes you up, making you feel lighter. This is one of the reasons why this sport is so popular with people suffering from joint pain and people who are overweight.

But swimming isn’t the only workout you can practice in a pool. Many pools offer water-based exercise classes, such as Aqua Aerobics. As the name implies, this is a type of resistance training, during which toning exercises for the entire body are performed in shallow water.

Please keep in mind that, no matter what sport you practice, it is always important to be properly prepared and to follow the specific requirements for clothing, equipment, etc. It might not be a bad idea to go to a specialized store where a trained staff is on hand to offer you expert advice. Remember: the right technique and equipment are essential for an effective training and for achieving the best results.

Of course, the list of joint-friendly training methods goes on and on. We have singled out only a few. It’s up to you to find your favorite summer sport – have fun!

Am 23. Dezember 2012 in: joints, muscles von Björn Snoek
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