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Are you ready to work up a sweat? Unfortunately, when you live with chronic pain it’s not always quite so simple. Although many medical professionals recommend exercise as a tool to manage chronic pain, accessing and participating in exercise can throw up hurdles for some of us.

The potential benefits of exercise, however, are not to be sniffed at. Studies show that, for some individuals with chronic pain, exercise can prompt reductions in pain intensity and improvement in function. Beyond pain issues, exercise has been shown to have a whole smorgasbord of positive effects, including supporting better mental health.

What are Low Impact Sports?

Swimming and gym sessions (using low-impact machinery like ellipticals) are widely recommended for those with chronic pain, but this type of activity is not for everyone. In fact, many low-impact exercise types are solitary activities. This can make them even less enticing for those who love to exercise with other people and who value the social aspect of physical activity.

Fortunately there are lots of other low impact fitness options that you may not have considered, which are perfect for people who prefer to exercise with others, or who just can’t stand the gym! Here are some of our favourites.

1. Water Aerobics

This low-impact sport supports your body and reduces jolts and jarring as it takes place in the water. Water aerobics is brilliant for socialising and highly motivating as classes are typically taught by an instructor. This low-impact exercise will help you burn calories, keep moving and make a splash (or three!), without placing undue pressure on your body.

2. Tai Chi

Graceful and gentle, the ancient Chinese exercise of Tai Chi incorporates slow movements and deep breathing. It is widely believed to be beneficial for your posture, stress levels, balance and mobility (although more research is required to conclusively prove these perks). Often conducted outdoors as part of a group, this low-impact exercise is great for getting some fresh air and meeting people.

3. Walking Football and Walking Netball

Do you have a competitive side? Do you love being part of a team? Walking football and walking netball are low-impact versions of their faster-paced counterparts, which makes them perfect for people with chronic pain who love coming together over a sport. With over 800 walking football clubs now in the UK, there could be a team on your doorstep.

4. Cycling

There’s something brilliantly freeing about hopping on your bike. If your chronic pain makes weight-bearing exercise put undue pressure on your joints, you may find cycling a more comfortable form of exercise, particularly if you experience pain in your lower body. It’s also a brilliant activity with friends. If you want to measure your progress or get more motivated, why not download an app like Strava or Runkeeper to track your routes and progress?

5. Canoeing

Grab a paddle and hit the water. If you’re an adventurous sort, canoeing is a great low-impact sport to take up. Although harder work for your upper back and shoulders, canoeing allows the rest of your body to remain largely sedentary, all while providing a great workout and heaps of fun. You can use this tool to find information about paddling trails all over the UK.

Chronic Pain & Exercise

Of course, everybody’s response to chronic pain and relationship with exercise is different. For some, pain can make exercise seem like an impossibility. For others, staying active is a key part of managing symptoms. For individuals who experience flare ups, meanwhile, the desire and ability to exercise can fluctuate frequently.

Whether exercise is a key aspect of your health regime, or something that is more challenging to do regularly, life with chronic pain can affect the types of exercise you are able to engage in. For martial artist, Calvin, chronic pain changed his relationship with exercise entirely:

Calvin has adapted his exercise regime and habits to accommodate his body’s changing needs. He now undertakes lower impact exercise (which places less pressure on his body) and has trialled our active patches. In his recent video review, Calvin reviewed our patches, explaining that they “relieve some of the pain, allowing me to push harder and longer” .

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So I recently received some pain relief patches from @tobetterdays_ , and have been trialing them across last month. Overall, I’d say they’re pretty good, and definitely help more than over the counter muscle relief patches. Head over to their page to find out how you can get some! #rehab #aid #tobetterdays #painrelief #training

A post shared by Calvin Lok (@clohxwerk) on

What’s Your Story?

Do you experience chronic pain? We’d love to pick your brain and share your insights into chronic pain and exercise. What is the best low impact exercise for you? Have you tried any of the low impact sports on our list? We would love for you to share your experiences with other readers by sharing your story or leaving us a message on our Facebook page.

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