Cardiovascular exercise and fitness is important as it helps to improve stamina, reduce risk of major illnesses such as heart disease and stroke, decrease body weight, reducing stress on joints and releases endorphins, the body’s natural pain killers, reducing the need for pain medication and elevate mood.
Most cardio exercises, however puts a lot of stress on joint, especially in the lower limb. High-impact exercises such as running and tennis is very effective for cardiovascular health and weight loss, but can result in joint pain and are best avoided by those with compromised joints due to injuries or age.
There are certain exercises which still allow for a good cardiovascular workout without stressing your joints too much.
Walking: Though running is often the best activity for cardiovascular fitness, walking is a good compromise to reduce strain on joints. Make sure you have a good pair of supportive shoes. Walking should be performed on a level surface either outside or indoors on a treadmill where some of the impact is absorbed. It is important to start slow and gradually build up your exercise tolerance. Speed walking can an excellent workout for the entire body.
Cycling: Cycling is another recommended low-impact activity to improve cardiovascular fitness and this can be in the way of a bicycle or stationary bike. Stationary bike can come with preloaded programs that offer variety and challenges.
Elliptical trainer: These are special machines that produce low-impact, smooth gliding motions of both arms and legs. For those with painful joint conditions, these can provide an excellent means of cardiovascular exercise.
Aqua Therapy or Swimming: The buoyancy of water reduces stress on joints, especially with high BMI and already painful joints. The weightlessness from water makes it easier to perform various exercises which you otherwise may struggle with. This allows for cardiovascular excise and weight loss.
Alternating between these low-impact activities can sufficiently raise your heart rate for cardiovascular fitness, but also has the added benefit of weight loss. Weight loss itself offloads your joints to improve overall joint health, at times help with pain relief allowing for more vigorous exercise.