Exercising Through Pain for People over 50

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I am a huge exercise fan. I love how it makes me feel and I love even more how it burns calories and gives me some wiggle room in my diet. But over the past months, I have had some set backs. Here in Michigan, we have had the longest winter ever so it has been hard to get to the gym let alone walk outside. Plus I have been struggling with some pain in my foot, my back and in my joints. While I am seeing a doctor for these issues, she has encouraged me to get back into some kind of fitness routine. Here are my tips for getting back into a routine and working out with mild pain.



Pilates is great for people who suffer from pain. I am going to Pilates classes twice per week. I realized how much I missed it and I am really enjoying it. Admittedly, it is a class for people 50 and over. It is nothing fancy as it is at my local community center but it has been great. If I feel any pain in my back or knees, I can back out of the pose and the instructor prompts the class by saying things like “Keep your knees soft and avoid locking them.” I love the accountability of having a class to attend and the group aspect makes more fun than just going to the gym by myself. But if weather prevents me from going to class, I can aways work out at home using my Pilates ball.


I am very committed to my yoga practice. I go to class weekly and even look for yoga classes when I travel. Honestly, the class I go to every week has been painful on my heel and joints over the past couple of months. I was starting to feel burnt out on it. But with my teacher travelling out of the country for five weeks, I had the opportunity to try a different instructor’s class at a new studio and it has really helped me to build up some strength. It has been nice to mix up my routine a bit.

Recumbent Machines

I always wondered if people using the recumbent machines in the cardio room were getting a good workout. It seemed like they were not really working out. In fact, my podiatrist recommended that I use the recumbent bike as I recover from my heel spur and plantar fasciitis. My gym has a few machines to choose from, the recumbent bike, the recumbent elliptical and recumbent stepper. I use them separately or I make a circuit out of them by spending 10 minutes on each. It has been great to have options and to be able to do some cardio again without being in pain. Since they are low impact, they are perfect for people suffering from pain. Of course, you should check with your doctor before beginning any fitness routine.

In summary, my routine consists of Pilates class twice per week on Monday and Wednesday, yoga class on Tuesday and cardio for two of the other days using the recumbent machines. I also have been able to add walking now that my heel is better. I did have to get some orthotic inserts and limit my walks to 30 minutes or less. I hope you will share some of your tips for exercising with pain with me in the comments!

Tags: Last updated on January 11, 2024


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