Staying active is one of the best things you can do to protect your health and wellbeing throughout your life. It has been shown beyond a shadow of a doubt that people who prioritise exercise every week tend to retain their physical conditions better in later life than those who have a sedentary lifestyle.
For example, individuals who take regular exercise have been shown to have a lower risk of developing chronic health conditions in later life than can be life changing in their effects. Exercise reduces the risks of type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart and lung disease, osteoporosis, certain cancers and issues relating to carrying excess weight.
The issue that many people come across at some point in their lives, whether they are very active or not, is joint pain. General wear and tear of everyday life will always cause some level of issues or discomfort at some point, but some people are particularly prone to experiencing these issues, and they can be quite debilitating.
Poor joint health is strongly associated with being overweight, but it can also come about due to a physically active lifestyle. For example, runners often face some level of knee problems especially if they run long distances their whole lives and tennis players often experience issues with their elbows.
As you can see, some types of physical activity can be problematic in their own right. It is the weight bearing, high impact exercises that are most known for causing problems, such as running and intensive team sports. It’s not that these kinds of exercises should be avoided, rather they should be paired with more gentle forms of movement and exercise.
Swimming is perhaps the perfect exercise for anyone who is relatively confident in the water. You can make full use of all the muscle groups when swimming and can easily tailor the intensity of your workout to come up with a personalised plan. Furthermore, swimming is completely non-weight bearing because the swimmer is supported by the density of the water. This means that you can swim throughout your entire life without worrying about the impact on your joints. In fact, swimming is a great way to exercise the muscles and strengthen the ligaments and tendons that support your joints, making them stronger and more stable.
Yoga’s less popular cousin, pilates is actually a wonderful way to exercise and it builds flexibility, strength, and muscle control. Pilates clothing is inexpensive and comfortable, giving you the freedom to stretch and move without worrying about feeling restricted, and because it is low impact your joints will thank you. Similar to swimming, pilates contributes to the health of your joints because it strengthens them and makes them more resilient. Where yoga is about finding a position and holding it, pilates is about finding a position then moving your arms and legs to work out your core.
Another one for the cardio lovers, cycling is a good way to stay in shape without putting extra stress on your joints. It is a low impact exercise, making it ideal for people who have mild joint issues as long as the activity is cleared with a doctor first. Cycling mostly works the major muscles in the legs, but cyclists also develop strong core muscles as they are needed to keep the body stable, balanced and upright while the bike is in motion.
Part of the reason for the popularity of cycling is that it is incredibly versatile and there is a type of cycling out there for everyone. Indoor cycling, also called spinning, is something that anyone can do at any time of year, even in the cold, icy depths of winter. You don’t have to go to the gym to use stationary bikes as they are often cheap and compact enough to have in your own home.
Road cycling is more about speed and is best left to cyclists who feel confident sharing the roads with cars and other motorised vehicles. Road cyclists use streamlined, lightweight bikes that are built for speed and distance. Mountain biking is another choice that ranges from riding mild trails to traversing some of the most hair raising terrain in the form of steep slopes, rock formations and challenging forest trails.