Seven ways to save your joints

As we get older, unfortunately our joints get creakier.
That’s just the way it is, but through exercise and knowledge it’s possible to keep your joints working a lot better a lot longer than they would otherwise.
The older you are, probably the more stiff you feel when you get out of bed in the morning. As the day goes on, though, you should feel a lot better as you loosen up.
Here are seven tips to ensure that your joints will keep feeling loose longer, and keep you feeling younger:

Stretch, stretch, stretch – Get a real light stretch in, then a light warmup walk, jog or exercise bike session in for about 5-10 minutes and then stretch out fully. Stretching and flexibility are the key to everything you do in a workout.

Stay grounded – To get a cardio workout and burn calories without burning out your joints, pick exercises that are low impact.
If you have sore knees, ankles and/or bad hips, then avoid running altogether or cut back.
Instead, do exercises in which one foot is on the ground at all times, like walking. Or try an elliptical machine – it’s not nearly as demanding on the joints as running.

Take the straight path – If your joints are troubling you, avoid activities with lots of twists, turns and sudden starts and stops, like basketball and tennis.

Schedule rests days smartly – You know how sore you get, so mix in lighter workouts the day after a real hard one and then a rest day. A good method is to exercise in two- to three-day cycles and then have a light day or complete off day follow. Use common sense because you don’t want to push it too hard.

Check your treads – Just like a car won’t run as well on old, worn-out tires, so to you should have good tennis shoes to exercise in. Make sure you have shoes that aren’t too worn out. If joint problems are a concern, it would be a good idea to speak with a doctor or trainer about looking into insoles. I’ve found that the top specialty athletic footwear stores have pretty knowledgeable people if you want to save some money and avoid a doctor for shoe/insole advice.

Cross train – Exercise in different ways to avoid repetitive use injuries from doing the same things over and over.
This will also help keep your workouts more fun. It would be pretty boring for me if five days a week I did basically the same routine each time.

Listen to your body – If your body is hurting more than usual, then take that signal as a clue you need to slow down or take the day off. You should be OK after a day or two off, but if the problem continues then seek a medical opinion.

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