Of all the forms of cardio exercises, walking is considered the best. While it doesn’t burn as many calories as jogging and running, it is a lot easier on joints. A walker is much less likely to develop problems in ankles, knees, hips and back over someone who jogs or runs.
When I was younger, I did a lot of walking, sometimes up to forty-five miles in a week. It wasn’t for exercise, it was because I didn’t have a car. In fact, I walked so much during my second pregnancy, the doctors were afraid the baby’s birth weight would be far too low. They had lifeflight and a neonatal unit on standby. I told them it was unnecessary and I was right. She weighed in at over eight pounds.
There is a down side to walking. It is still an impact exercise. Many people have a hard time with this, either from illness, arthritis or injuries. Even walking to the corner store can cause intense pain and possibly cause further damage.
That leaves many of us up the proverbial creek when it comes to getting cardio exercise in…or does it? There are a few options available that could provide us what we need without further damage to our joints.
What we need are low and no impact exercises. One that may be helpful to many is a stationary bike. There is no impact to jog ankles, knees and hips. It can be set up in levels, so even a beginner can use the machine safely.
That’s fine for many people, but not all of us can even tolerate the bike. Some injuries cause range of motion problems and an exercise bike requires a decent range. What works for us is aquatic therapy.
Walking and doing other exercises in the water is very low impact. The water supports your body, and it doesn’t require a specific range of motion. A lap pool is ideal for this, because the water usually doesn’t get over four and a half feet deep. If you are working on improving your range of motion, you can safely walk backwards, frontwards and side to side. With luck (and your doctor’s approval) you may even be able to use the stationary bike.
To walk or not to walk really is an important question. If you have any physical problem that impairs your mobility, there are two people you need to consult. First, talk to your doctor. He or she can tell you what you can safely do. Second, talk to a personal trainer, preferably one with experience in physical therapy. The trainer can make sure you do the exercises right and don’t make things worse. With their help, you may find you can walk again.