One of the keys to more energized muscles and joints is good circulation, and the cold doesn’t help us on that front. When the body gets cold, circulation becomes restricted so the blood remains around the heart and vital organs, making it harder for blood to reach the peripheral areas of the body. (Hello, numb hands, legs, and feet!) Thus, getting the blood flowing throughout the body is especially important during the winter. While hibernating at home or not venturing outside of the office all day is tempting, being sedentary won’t help your joints.
One way to increase activity is by doing at least a 20 to 30 minute brisk walk each day. Not only does brisk walking get the blood flowing, but research shows it can help protect against hip fractures. A 2002 study of nurses found that brisk walking four hours a week gave them a 41% lower risk of hip fractures, compared to walking less than an hour a week. Notably, more time spent standing was also independently associated with lower risks. So, if you plan on taking up some brisk walking this winter, just make sure your shoes have good traction.
Let’s be real there are so many excuses for not exercising during the winter. One common myth is that exercise itself causes joint pain or arthritis, but studies show that it’s hugely beneficial to maintaining bone strength and easing joint stiffness. In fact, a 2005 British research study confirmed that walking and muscle-strengthening exercises are a safe and effective treatment for people with osteoarthritis in the knee.
So, what’s the best type of exercise to keep your joints in shape? Experts recommend both weight-bearing activities and resistance training. Resistance training, like lifting weights at least twice a week, is great for stimulating bones in your wrist, arms, and lower body. Weight-bearing exercise, where the body literally bears its weight against gravity, puts pressure on your bones, which helps increase bone density. For example, while doing downward dog in yoga, your body has to work and balance to hold itself up. On the contrary, activities like swimming and biking aren’t weight-bearing exercises. Trust us, your body will thank you for incorporating weight bearing activities into your lifestyle, like hiking, Zumba, jumping rope, or simply taking the stairs instead of the escalator.