If getting fit is one of your goals this year, there are plenty of activities to choose from to get your heart rate up, burn calories and build muscle and strong bones. One thing to consider when you begin an exercise routine is the impact level of your exercises.
Texas Orthopedics Physical Therapist John Longoria, PT, DPT suggests starting out with low impact exertions.
“I recommend low-impact exercises for people who have sensitive joints, joint replacements or to anyone who is looking to focus on longevity in training,” Longoria advises. “It’s always a good idea to mix in some low impact with high impact. That way, you do not run into an overuse injury.”
Longoria offers general guidelines to keep in mind when incorporating low-impact activities in your exercise routine.
What are the health benefits of low-impact exercise?
Longevity in training around sensitive joints. If you can’t tolerate repetitious, high-impact activity, low-impact is a great alternative to make sure you get all the health benefits that come with general exercise.
Low-impact exercise allows your body to continue to train, while not beating it up – and perhaps work your way up to higher-impact activity.
What would cause sensitive joints?
- Rehabbing an injury;
- Arthritis developing in the joints; or
- Joint replacement
What low-impact exercise activities do you recommend?
- Stepper and elliptical machines
What are your favorite low-impact exercises?
I like cycling and swimming the most. Although cycling is low impact, you can increase the resistance on a multi-speed bike to get more muscle work. You can work on muscle strength, endurance and power, but it’s still low impact.
Also, swimming is a great total body exercise. It is great for heart health and muscle endurance.
How should beginners incorporate low-impact exercise into new year’s fitness goals?
If you are starting the year with new fitness goals, your body may not be used to exercising. After starting an exercise routine, if you feel like your body is becoming easily fatigued, excessively sore or getting achy joints, low-impact exercise is a great way to continue along the health path you want to move toward, while not having to stop because of the discomfort.
It is a great way to ensure you can recover while still getting in a meaningful workout and advancing toward your goals.
Begin with low-impact activities and you can slowly transition into more high-impact activities because there are a lot of benefits that come from making this change. To ease into a new regimen, I recommend starting with low-impact activities to condition the body, muscles, and joints so you can tolerate higher impacts as you become more advanced.
How do you incorporate low-impact exercise into physical therapy treatment?
Typically, I start with low impact exercise at the beginning and progress to more rigorous types of activities slowly and appropriately based on the activities the patient wants to get back to.
A comprehensive exercise routine will always be the most beneficial; it just has to be right for the patient.
A lot of people think, “Oh I’m older I should just do low impact.” But if you can tolerate high-impact, it is beneficial to do it because it comes with a variety of other health benefits that low-impact doesn’t – muscle strength, power, bone density and more.
At Texas Orthopedics, we individualize each physical therapy treatment routine based on the patient’s functional status. We look at how each patient presents at the beginning of their physical therapy and consider where they are and where they want to go. Then we work with them to reach those goals.
For more information on Texas Orthopedics comprehensive musculoskeletal services or to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists, book an appointment online or call (512) 439-1000.
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