Exercise Mistakes You're Making That Are Hurting Your Joints

Whether you're a power-walker, a gym-goer, or a busy toddler mom, moving your body has incredible benefits for both your mental and physical health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, exercise helps you live a longer and healthier life and reduces your risk of cancer and heart disease. As if that weren't enough, it's also good for your mood. A 2018 meta-analysis published in JAMA Psychiatry showed that resistance-based workouts can improve symptoms of depression, while a 2013 study in Frontiers in Psychiatry reported that exercise significantly reduces anxiety.

Regular exercise can also help keep your joints supple and strong. Susan Sterling, an instructor at the preventative medicine non-profit, The Cooper Institute, told Arthritis Today Magazine, "Exercise strengthens the muscles, ligaments, and tendons surrounding the joints. When these tissues are strong, they act like a brace to protect the joint."

Even though exercise is great for maintaining joint health, beware — there are some things you might be doing in your workout routine that could cause damage.

What to do for better joint health

If you've got a big event coming up that you want to look your best for, it may be tempting to pack on the intensity and work out every chance you get. But this can actually be detrimental to your joints and overall fitness goals. Physical therapist, Grayson Wickham, told Livestrong, "Adequate recovery is essential because exercising causes stress to your nervous system and physical stress to your connective tissues, such as your muscles, fascia, and tendons." 

Taking a break from your routine doesn't mean you have to lay on the couch all day (although that's okay too). You can take an active rest day and go for a walk, do some stretching, or try a gentle yoga class.

Speaking of yoga, skipping out on flexibility work isn't doing you or your joints any favors, according to Livestrong. Much like taking a rest day, it may feel counterproductive to incorporate yoga or another stretching routine into your rotation if you're trying to lose weight or build muscle. But incorporating something like a yoga practice will help to boost your overall strength and endurance while supporting your joint health (via Shape).