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Exercising with joint pain

A senior woman smiles while resting on the side of a swimming pool

Tips for exercising with joint pain

For people with chronic back or joint pain, exercise can be one of the best ways to mitigate the pain. Exercise actually improves your pain threshold, making it easier to tolerate the discomfort associated with chronic pain.

Cardiovascular exercise, workouts that increase your heart rate, is associated with reduction in low-back and knee pain. The key, however, is finding a workout that doesn’t increase your pain. Try lower-impact aerobic exercises, like walking on a treadmill or swimming laps, that won’t hurt your joints. Running and basketball are both aerobic but can be too jarring on knees, hips, and ankles.

Exercises like yoga and Pilates can help strengthen core muscles that support your spine while also helping improve flexibility. These types of exercise are great for reducing pain and increasing range of motion, especially for people who are dealing with an injury or chronic pain.

Whenever you start a new exercise routine, it is important to check with your doctor first and then work with a professional — a physical therapist or an athletic trainer—to develop a program tailored to your abilities and goals.

Learn more about exercises to reduce lower back pain and exercising with arthritis.