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Low Impact Exercises to Stay in Shape During Recovery

Aerobic exercise increases the heart rate, which in turn increases the flow of blood around the body, taking healing nutrients to all body structures. It also improves strength and flexibility without jarring the joints or spine. If you are recovering from an injury and want to keep in shape, it is important to first obtain approval from your doctor. Start slowly and carefully. As you build strength and endurance, increase the time and intensity of your exercise, but take care not to aggravate existing conditions.

Walking is possibly the best exercise you can do. Walk two to three miles, three times a week, to strengthen the muscles in your feet, legs, hips, and torso. Walking also strengthens bones, reduces loss of bone density, and helps to control weight. If you’re just beginning, start on a treadmill, which is lower impact than on natural terrain. Add hills and varied terrain as your strength and endurance increases.

Swimming is also excellent aerobic exercise that places no impact on your joints and uses almost every muscle in the body. Water counteracts gravity, which allows more mobility. You don’t even have to swim; any exercise in water will help keep you in shape as you recover.

  • Try walking forwards and backwards in chest-high water, using hand held weights to increase the workout.

  • Holding on to the side of the pool and standing on one, slightly bent, leg while stretching the other leg out in front of you stretches and strengthens the muscles in the lower back, hip, and leg.

  • Floating on your back and making paddling movements with the arms and legs exercises the four limbs.

  • Floating on your stomach, holding on to the side of the pool with both hands and stretching the legs out behind you stretches the muscles and joints of the back and shoulders.

Stationary bicycling strengthens the legs, increases endurance, and provides a cardiovascular workout. Arm ergometers give the arms and upper body a workout.

Elliptical trainers or step machines increase strength and endurance without jarring your joints. You can even use your own stairs; depending on your beginning condition, start with a few steps and gradually increase the number of stairs climbed.

Rowing or kayaking on water exercises the back, shoulders, and arms. If you have the use of a rowing machine, that works the legs as well.

Yoga, Pilates, and Tai Chi strengthen, stretch, and improve flexibility.

Weight training increases endurance and power. Begin with a weight that you can comfortably hold while doing 8–15 repetitions. When that starts to feel easy, increase the weight a little. Weight training can help to maintain bone density.

Circuit training: If you have the use of a gym, circuit training is an excellent, low impact way of staying in shape. Do 10 minutes on a bicycle, 10 minutes walking, and 10 minutes on the rowing machine, alternating these sessions with exercises using weights.

Whatever type of exercise you choose to do, get medical approval before beginning, start slowly and carefully and gradually build up time and intensity. Taking care not to overdo it at the beginning means you are less likely to reinjure yourself.