I’ve recently occurred an injury to my knee and have been forced to adjust my sporting activity, not only until it heals, but for the inevitable future. To say I’ve been upset by this fact would be somewhat of an understatement, especially after devoting most of my life to living an active lifestyle and getting involved in as many sports as I possibly could.
Determined not to let my injury ruin my lifestyle, I’ve been obsessively researching and evaluating my options. The main problem I’ve had is that the information I’ve found has been somewhat one-sided, aimed specifically at the elderly or people with severe injuries. I’m still in my thirties and in pretty good shape. Of course I’m in favour of promoting sport for the elderly but I don’t feel that the advice is necessarily specific enough for people in my situation. Likewise, I don’t feel that the gently-gently approach of advice available for the seriously injured is relevant either. I’m stuck somewhere in between and with this in mind I’ve decided to create a fully fledged active lifestyle, tailored for people like me – young, sports enthusiasts that need to avoid high impact sports, but still need their fix of adrenalin.
Here are my top 5 tips for people that need to go easy on their joints but still want to live an active, adventurous lifestyle.
Not Just for the Elderly
These exercises are great for injured sports enthusiasts – young and old, people who need to take it easy whilst in recovery, elderly people in good physical condition, people with light arthritis, young people with frequent joint pain and anyone who wants to stay active without causing significant aches and pains.
Bikram Yoga - A More Extreme Version
Before my injury I knew all about Yoga and its health benefits. The truth is, however, I never found it intense enough. Since being told to take things a little more slowly, I’ve taken another look and was ecstatic to discover Bikram Yoga. Bikram Yoga is exactly the same as normal Yoga, only it’s done in a heated room at around 105°F/40.6°C, with a humidity of 40%. This drastically increases the intensity of the exercise but still places very low impact on the joints. This is my kind of Yoga!
Be warned, classes run for a whopping 90 minutes and include a series of 26 challenging postures – this isn’t for the light hearted.
Intense Mountain Walking – For Those That Used To Run!
For years and years I hit the roads and treadmills, pounding away at my back and knees in a quest to beat my best running times. Without doubt this has added to my now injured knee, but I still have the desire to get out there and push myself to the limit.
My doctor suggested walking instead of running, so I tried it. But, what I found was that walking the routes I used to run just didn’t cut the mustard. Although I loved being outdoors, what really made it exciting, was the high intensity. I thought this through, and tried to come up with way to make walking more adventurous, more exciting!
It was obvious – do it somewhere amazing! I drove to the nearest mountain and walked as quickly as I could, to the top. It was hard at points not to break into a run, but I found the intensity mixed with the sheer ruggedness got my adrenalin going.
Bear in mind, although mountain walking is less intense than running, it still creates some level of impact on your joints, particularly on the way back down the mountain/hill. Mountain walking is best for sports enthusiasts that still have good mobility, but need to replace their running with something a little less intense. For those with more serious health issues, stick to intense walking on foot paths or cycle tracks – but keep the pace up and get that heart pumping!
River Kayaking – Because Swimming is too Cliché
Water sports are known for being low impact and my doctor gave me the cliché chat about getting into swimming. I’ve always done a bit of swimming but it’s not something that replaces the excitement of my previous sports such as basketball or rugby, at least not for me. For this reason, I started thinking of other low impact water sports that offer more adrenalin.
That’s when I discovered River Kayaking. Basically, you get in a Kayak and row down a river. This sport gets you out and about amongst Mother Nature and puts no strain on your lower joints what so ever. Obviously, you can tailor your work-out by rowing at different intensities and over different distances and the conditions of the river make it more or less adventurous.
Remember that although rowing is a low impact sport, it does require considerable upper body strength. This can be a good thing if you are trying to strengthen your core muscle groups, but be careful if you have any serious back issues.
Golf – The Ultimate Downtime Sport
Golf is often labelled as an “old man’s sport” but things have really changed over the last decade or so. With the likes of Tiger Woods hitting the headlines and spicing things up, golf has benefitted from a new lease of life. Young sports professionals play golf in their down time for an active day off and in my experience, golf offers a thoroughly enjoyable way to exercise. Admittedly it’s not really an “adventure” sport, but it does promote travel as you seek out new and exciting golf courses.
Back in the old days I think golf was considered to be a sport entirely for the wealthy. You could either employ a caddy for the day, to carry your golf clubs around, or carry them yourself. This causes obvious problems for the elderly and people with back or joint issues. But like I say, things have come a long way and there are affordable options such as electric golf trolleys or cheap golf buggy rental which takes the load off. Golf is no longer only for the wealthy and with modern technology, it really is the ideal low impact sport, for young and old.
Ben Holbrook continues to enjoy a healthy lifestyle and is committed to finding more and more low impact sports.