How to do cardio without stressing your joints

Most people know the importance of getting a good cardiovascular workout.
Also known as aerobic exercise, cardio strengthens your heart, strengthens lungs and increases lung capacity, elevates the metabolism level, burns calories, helps you lose weight and reduce stress, increases energy and can even help you sleep better.
But what should someone who wants to do cardio workouts but has joint problems?
You can’t exactly go for a 30-minute run several times a week if your knees are shot.
Here are three tips to get a cardio workout without stressing your joints:
* Do low-impact exercises – Try an elliptical machine instead of a treadmill, or go cycling. For extremely painful joints, get in the water and try swimming. Use a recumbent bicycle if your back is sore.
* Keep it straight – Limit activities in which you make a lot of turns, twists, pivots, starts and stops. This means to stop playing sports like tennis or basketball as much because they can put a lot of strain on the joints.
Once again, the elliptical machine is a good choice to keep it straight. In the winter, consider trying cross country skiing.
* Build a support system – Strengthen the muscles that offer support around your knees, hips, and back. That can reduce pain by improving alignment, posture and overall joint performance.
Many light dumbbell lifts help stabilize muscles, along with leg lifts while you’re sitting on the floor or using a machine (leg extensions) can help accomplish this.

At Home Fitness consultant Aaron Dorksen’s blog deals with a variety of fitness topics, ranging from workout tips, motivational ideas and feature stories on how exercise impacts people’s lives. E-mail him with comments, questions or ideas for future blogs at