Cardio Workouts for Chronic Pain

October 15, 2014
Credit: Temptations


Getting fit has been a priority of mine since I realised I’d fallen into a vicious cycle of chronic pain and poor fitness.  I wasn’t going to feel better for as long as I didn’t exercise so establishing a manageable regime that worked me out without harming myself was an important task.

Chronic pain illnesses, particularly those that affect the joints and muscles surrounding them, can make exercising tricky.  My fibromyalgia and hypermobility conditions have both proved their challenges, and a recent diagnosis of bursitis in my hips has further pushed my limitations.  But with perseverance I am finding ways to overcome the barriers of pain.  It’s difficult getting the balance just right but exercise is possible!


1. Swimming

Before I got into swimming I heard a lot of negative talk suggesting pool activities were not recommended for fibromyalgia.  Shirking this advice was the best thing I ever did.  Swimming has quickly increased my health in terms of my stamina and is helping control and alleviate pain by strengthening my most painful areas.  It’s not cured me but I am capable of much easier movement.



2. Aqua Fit

Alongside swimming I participate in aqua fit, which is an exercise class in the pool.  It can be tailored to how your feeling that day; if you’re especially tired or in pain you slow down the movements and take it more gently.  The class is fun and encouraging, as you’re generally not the only person with health problems, and still get a good work out.

3. Treadmill

The treadmill is fantastic for getting your heart racing and exercising those joints.  Working within your own pain threshold, you can control the intensity of your work out by adjusting the speed and gradient for the amount of time or calories you want to burn.  Walking to a quick pace at a slight incline works best for me as I’m not pummelling my joints in a run or on unforgiving tarmac.



4. Recumbent Bike

The exercise bike and cross trainer can be tempting but tough on joints, so try the recumbent bike for a more ergonomic ride.  I find it less impacting on my knees and much more comfortable for my back and bum.  Cycles can be incredibly painful on the derriere but the recumbent bike has a much comfier seat.




I am still trying out various classes and exercises in a trial and error attempt to figure out what types of exercise work for me with the muscle and joint pains I struggle with.  Not all exercise will suit every person.  It’s a case of taking it easy and trying out various methods and apparatus that feels right; working, not hurting your muscles.



Have you found a particular exercise or class that works well with a pain condition?

Have you wondered about working out but felt daunted by it?

You are welcome to share your experiences and thoughts right here – I’d love to listen, learn or help!



  1. Stefanie

    October 15, 2014 at 8:11 pm

    I have fibro as well. And it is hard to find an excercise program that fits. I was walking in the mornings for an hour but that didn’t last more than a week or so.
    I am also trying to lose weight to fit into my wedding dress for May. But I still need to get a divorce. And that’s a whole other story…
    My children are young 10, 8 and 21 months so I’m busy but do need to still find a way to excercise and still get my naps in.

  2. Alicia

    October 16, 2014 at 4:34 am

    After knee surgery and chronic bursitis & tendinitis (inflammatory joint pain) I’ve realized I just can’t hike & walk the hills for miles as I used to. The treadmill, besides being boring, still impacted my joints. Even the elliptical machine was too much & caused joint swelling. Finally, a friend reminded me of the ’90s Gazelle Glider. Zero joint impact! And inexpensive! Love!

    I still use 8 lb weights for toning of my arms & back, but my cardio prone is solved.

  3. peteslotions

    December 17, 2014 at 3:59 am

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