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If you suffer from joint pain, a quick trip to the gym for a run on the treadmill, some weight training, squats or zumba may no longer work for you. And let’s face it, if exercise hurts, you are less likely to do it.

Here are some simple, joint-friendly workouts that can help you get and stay fit without the pain.

1. Low impact cardio. The best way to gauge how much impact you can handle is to start with the lowest impact exercises and work your way up. You may find you do well with a recumbent bike, but not an upright bike. Running might be out of the question. Stay where you feel comfortable. Here are some great cardio workouts ranked from least to most impact: swimming, recumbent bike, upright bike, elliptical, treadmill, outdoor running.

2. Get wet. Most arthritis sufferers find that water-based workouts are the easiest on their joints. The buoyancy of the water makes for extremely low impact. Whether swimming or taking a water aerobics class, getting wet may be your best bet.

3. Adapt. Sometimes a small adaptation will spare your joints while still allowing you to participate in some of your favorite exercises. Planks, for example, are great for the core, but can be killers on your wrists. If this is you, try doing planks on your forearms or use dumbbells or yoga blocks instead. Push ups can be similarly adapted, or you can use exercise machines that perform the same function without requiring you to put all your weight on bent wrists. If your knees hurt during squats or lunges, shift your weight to your heels, and don’t bend more than 90 degrees. For sore shoulders, avoid overhead exercises and keep your palms up during lateral raises.

4. Pilates. It may sound like a California soccer mom fad, but pilates can be a great workout for people with joint pain. The focus in on joint mobility, flexibility and stability as well as balance and body alignment.

5. Yoga. Similar to pilates, a gentle yoga routine can be an excellent form of exercise, especially for those with rheumatoid arthritis.

6. Stretching. It’s the sort of thing people tend to overlook, but stretching before and after a workout can make a big difference for people with arthritis. Tight quadriceps, for example, will push more heavily on the kneecap, causing additional inflammation. After workouts, stretch all of your major muscle groups, holding each stretch for up to 30 seconds, and avoid bouncing.

7. Walk. So simple. Too simple to be on a list like this, but we can’t skip it. Get some good supportive shoes and go for a walk. Be sure to stretch before and after!

8. Foam rolling exercises. Foam rollers act as cheap but effective massagers, breaking up fibrous tissue and boosting circulation. Massage has been shown to reduce stiffness and soreness by 40%. Check out some great foam rolling exercises here: http://www.prevention.com/fitness/strength-training/foam-roller-strengthen-muscles-and-relieve-pain

Most importantly, stay active! People with arthritis are healthier and experience less pain with the right exercise routine. Keep going until you find yours.

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