But, Doc, My Back and Joints Hurt Too Much To Exercise!


Many of my obese patients have chronic low back and joint pains.  Painful lower limb joints and chronic or recurrent back pain are an exercise barrier to many people, whether skinny or fat. Those affected should consult a physician for a diagnosis, treatment, and advice on appropriate physical activity. If the physician isn’t sure about an exercise prescription, consultation with an orthopedist, physiatrist, or physical therapist should be helpful. Generally, weight-bearing on bad joints should be minimized by doing pool calisthenics, stationary cycling, swimming, etc. Use your imagination. Particularly bothersome joints may not tolerate exercise, if ever, until weight is lost by some method other than exercise. (Exercise by itself is typically an ineffective way to lose major weight.)

Light to moderate exercise actually reduces the pain and disability of knee degenerative arthritis. The effect is modest and comes with a small risk of injury such as bone fracture, cartilage tears, arthritis flare, and soft tissue strain.

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