Simple muscle-building cannot address total fitness and any exercise regimen is incomplete without a cardiovascular workout. Almost anyone can incorporate cardio into their routine. Cardiovascular exercise can help you:
- Improve stamina
- Strengthen your immune system and reduce the risk of major illnesses such as heart disease and stroke
- Decrease body weight reducing stress on the joints and promoting movement
- Remain functional in the presence of injury and chronic pain
- Release endorphins, the body’s natural pain killers; reducing your need for pain medication
- Elevate mood
Most cardio exercises, however, put a lot of stress on the joints, especially the joints in your legs. It’s true that high-impact exercises such as running and tennis, although effective in losing weight, can result in joint pain and are best avoided by those with compromised joints due to injuries or age. The good news is that you can still get a good cardio workout without stressing your joints. Here are a few exercises that go easy on the joints while providing you with a good cardiovascular workout:
- Walking: Though running is often recommended for cardiovascular fitness, walking is preferable to reduce strain on the joints. Make sure you have a good pair of shoes. Walking should be performed on a level surface either outside or indoors on a treadmill. Remember to start slow and gradually build up your routine until you are walking two to three miles, three times a week. Speed walking is an excellent workout for the entire body and is an excellent cardio workout.
- Cycling: Cycling is another recommended low-impact activity to improve cardiovascular fitness. Stationary cycling equipment usually comes with preloaded programs that offer variety and challenge.
- Water therapy or swimming: The buoyancy of the water reduces stress on the joints, improving mobility and making it easier to perform various exercises.
- Elliptical trainers: These are special machines that produce low-impact, smooth gliding movements of the arms and legs. For those with joint conditions, they provide an excellent means of cardiovascular fitness.
Alternating these low-impact activities can sufficiently raise your heart rate and improve endurance levels without letting your joints take a toll. It’s time to get moving!
Dr. Domb is a nationally recognized orthopaedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine and arthroscopic surgery of the hip, shoulder and knee. A noted pioneer in advanced new techniques in hip arthroscopy, he delivers innovative treatments for patients with hip injuries such as impingement and labral tears. Dr. Domb is also an expert in arthroscopic surgery of the shoulder and knee, adept in specialized techniques including arthroscopic rotator cuff repair and all-inside ACL reconstruction.