Swimming: A Low-Impact Exercise for Joint Pain

In continuing our series on low-impact exercise options for those who suffer from joint pain, today we wanted to feature a swimming exercise!

If you know how to swim, get back into the pool! Swimming is similar to yoga in that the movements are relaxing as well as easy on your joints. According to a 2016 study in the Journal of Rheumatology, "Regular swimming exercise reduced joint pain and stiffness associated with osteoarthritis and improved muscle strength and functional capacity in middle-aged and older adults with osteoarthritis." The study also found that swimming increased the quality of life for participants, along with decreasing their stiffness and physical limitations.

Luckily, many large gyms and community centers have a pool you can use year-round. In addition to swimming, you can do aquatic training. With the added challenge of water resistance, you can build even more strength.

Next time you head to the pool, give this workout a try:

  • Warm-up: Swim five full laps (both ways equals one lap), starting slowly and picking up the pace in the last two laps. Next, head to the shallow end for resistance moves like squat jumps, lunges and front kicks. Try 10 reps. Then go to the edge of the pool, hold on and kick your legs behind you, doing 10 reps on each leg. For your final exercise, perform a knee tuck by holding on to the edge and pulling each knee toward your chest.
  • To finish, swim three full laps, starting fast and slowing down in the last two laps for your cooldown.
  • Repeat this circuit 2 to 5 times for a full low-impact aquatic workout.

Make sure to talk with your doctor to get the go-ahead to exercise before trying any joint-friendly activities.

This exercise was featured in an article published by AARP.