Why Swimming Is The Perfect Exercise For Joint Pain

Swimming is a great low-impact way to stay active and get a good workout especially if you have arthritis or bad joints.
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Dive in, dunk under, or take a dip! Swimming is a great low-impact way to stay active and get a good workout especially if you have arthritis or bad joints. Water places an upward force on you—better known as “buoyancy”—which means you can be unweighted by 90 percent in the water up to neck level.  While bad joints and arthritis might derail your land-based exercise, you can still get a good workout in with some pool-time.

If you think water workouts are too easy, think again. Thirty minutes swimming laps burns 372 calories for a 155-pound person, according to Harvard Health. That’s the same as running at a 10-minute mile pace! And if you’re water jogging, that’s 282 calories a half hour.

Swimming won’t aggravate your joint pain. You might be inclined to avoid exercise when you have joint pain, but maintaining your muscles and surrounding tissue is crucial to supporting your bones. Swimming is low-impact so it takes away any stress on your joints while still allowing you to work your muscles. 

Enjoy the benefits of buoyancy. Calorie burn? Check. Joint ease? Check. What else does swimming bring to the table? Swimming improves your posture, balance and flexibility. The water reduces your risk of overheating during exercise and can lessen pain and increase your range of motion at the same time.

Swimming is great for all fitness levels. If you are a beginner, start with shorter increments of time in the pool and slowly build up your pool-time.

If you aren’t accustomed to water workouts, keep in mind it might take you some time to get acclimated. Walking in waist deep water is a great way for beginner’s to start strength training in the pool.

Work multiple muscle groups at the same time. Swimming works all major muscle groups from your core to your legs and arms.

Water provides natural resistance for your muscles to work against. You can mix up the strokes you perform to maximize the muscles you work. Do the breaststroke to work your back, upper body muscles and get abduction and adduction of your leg muscles. Freestyle works your upper body muscles also, but focuses on glutes, hamstrings, and quads with the flutter kicking of your legs.

Get all the benefits of other forms of exercise. Swimming will help you maintain bone strength, give you more energy, help you control your weight, make it easier to get a good night’s sleep and improve your overall sense of well-being. Swimming works to build lean muscle which will boost your metabolism. Swimming is heart healthy too, and improve blood pressure, and your circulation.

Swim workouts don’t have to be complicated. You can get in the pool, hold onto the edge and do flutter kicks. Work your triceps with your back to the edge of the pool and doing some tricep dips. You can grab a noodle (the long thin styrofoam tube that floats) to do a plank with your toes on the pool floor.

You can do high-knees across the length of the shallow end. Or you can use the side of the pool to push yourself up out of the water as a pool-time push-up. Even if you get in the pool and tread water in the deep end, you are working your body.

Mix up your water workouts. You won’t get bored in the water. Whether you sign up for a class at a health club, use your backyard pool, or visit a community pool, there are lots of toys you can use to make your water workouts more fun and effective. If you are exercising in the shallow water, use water shoes to protect your feet and improve your stability. Depending on your workout, you also can include:

  • Kickboards
  • Flippers
  • Resistance bands (They work well on land or in water.)
  • Noodles (long, thin styrofoam tubes that keep you afloat)
  • Medicine balls (They float and are a great way to add resistance. Use them with a partner for even more fun.)

Whether you hit up the lap pool at your health club or make a splash in the shallow end, both are low-impact ways to work your muscles and get a good calorie-burn—all while protecting your joints.

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