When it comes to exercise, sometimes less is more. Research suggests a workout that’s just 15 minutes can pay off – if you do it right. These workouts often involve high-intensity interval training (HIIT) – short bursts of hard effort, which have been shown to burn more calories than the slow and steady approach, says Matt Likins, an orthopedic physical therapist and partner of 1st Choice Physical Therapy in Michigan.
Think video games are just for kids and couch potatoes? Think again. Some games incorporate exercise, getting players up and moving. Called “exergaming,” this trend is on the rise in homes, gyms, physical therapy offices and rehabilitation centers.
Made popular by the Nintendo Wii, these interactive games use a handheld controller or sensors to track your body’s movement. That puts you in the game: You swing your arm to hit a baseball, jab in a boxing match or dance to earn points.
Mini-trampoline classes, also called “rebounding,” have gotten buzz lately. During class, each person jumps and runs in place, often to music, on his own trampoline. Fans say these fast-paced workouts torch calories and strengthen muscles with less impact than on a hard surface, says physical therapist Scott Euype, education director at Cleveland Clinic’s Rehabilitation & Sports Therapy.
However, you should be cautious before hopping on this bandwagon. If you jump too high or fast, the force may harm an already inflamed or damaged joint. Plus, “the landing surface is unstable, so you could turn an ankle or hurt your knee,” says Mary Ann Wilmarth, owner of Back2Back Physical Therapy in Andover, Massachusetts, and a spokesperson for the American Physical Therapy Association. Check with your doctor before you try rebounding. (Avoid it if you’ve had joint replacement in your feet, ankles, knees or hips unless your doctor has given the OK.)
The popular childhood pastime hula hooping is back as a hot fitness trend. The workouts use heavier hoops – weighing one to five pounds – in fun routines set to music, says Joanne Wu, MD, a physical rehabilitation physician at Unity Spine Center in Rochester, New York, and owner of a wellness consulting company.
Although people with balance disorders shouldn’t try hula-hooping, the exercise is a gentle way to strengthen the core. In fact, Dr. Wu recommends it for her spine patients. “Hooping itself is a low-impact exercise that’s gentle on the joints,” says Dr. Wu. “It builds balance and strength, especially in the core and legs.”
Yogalates. Gyrotonics. Piloxing. They may be hard to pronounce, but fusion workouts – which combine moves from two or more disciplines, such as yoga and Pilates (yogalates) or water aerobics and tai chi (ai chi) – are increasingly popular.
“People love fusion fitness because it’s challenging and novel,” says Jessica Matthews, group fitness expert and spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise (ACE) in San Diego and a fitness trainer who has trained people with arthritis.
But is it safe and worth your time? Fusion workouts can introduce you to other forms of exercise. Plus, “if you enjoy a particular type of exercise but are bored with your current routine, it’s a great way to break through the monotony,” says Matthews.
Finding the energy and time to work out is tough enough when you’re not traveling, so it’s no surprise that exercise can go off the rails when you’re on the road. With some planning, you can fit it into any trip, says Brian Housle, an exercise physiologist and fitness director at Duke Diet and Fitness Center in Durham, North Carolina. Here’s how.
Treadmills seem simple, but they can be hazardous, particularly for people with joint or balance issues. Trying to catch yourself when you lose your balance can result in muscle strains or injury in almost any joint, says physical therapist Mary Ann Wilmarth, CEO of Back2Back Physical Therapy in Andover, Mass.
“Injuries can go all the way up the kinetic chain when people slip and try to recover by catching themselves. This can mean foot injuries, strained or sprained ankles, shoulders and wrists – as well as the back and hips if you’re twisting as you lose balance,” she says.
Continue reading 10 Tips for Using the Treadmill Safely with Arthritis