4 Spine-Healthy Outdoor Exercises

Tai Chi
From fresh air to bright sunshine, spending time outdoors is an excellent way to boost your energy and your mood. Add in some spine-healthy exercises, and your time outside has even more benefits.
By routinely exercising and increasing your safe exposure to the sun (in other words, wearing sunscreen and being aware of high temperatures), you can strengthen your emotional and spine health with increased vitamin D production and muscle-building activities.
Here are 4 exercises that strengthen your spine and get you out in the sunshine:
1. Swimming– Swimming and water aerobics can help people with osteoarthritis, as well as people recovering from surgery. The gentle movements can help ease joint movement without hindering the healing process, and can decrease pain caused by chronic illness.
Water walking in water is another option if your condition makes swimming difficult. Water flow adds resistance when you walk, which will strengthen your muscles and provide a great overall workout. Start in shallow water and work your way up to a comfortable water level. The deeper the water, the harder the workout.
2. Walking/jogging – Adults should perform moderate aerobic physical activity for at least 150 minutes a week. That number may seem daunting, but it breaks down to only about 20 minutes a day. Try taking a walk through a local park, around a lake, or even just around your neighborhood. Be sure to use proper walking technique and maintain a consistent and somewhat brisk pace to keep your heart rate slightly elevated. If your health allows it, and only with your doctor’s approval, you can try light jogging, too.
3. Yoga – This is a fun and gentle exercise to build muscle, stretch your body, loosen your joints and help you relax. Stretching and relaxation are important to help maintain overall cardiac fitness, lower your blood pressure and even improve your immune system. If you’re new to yoga, check out a book or DVD from your local library, stop by your community center or a local yoga studio and ask about their outdoor classes.
4. Tai Chi – The gentle art of Tai Chi can benefit bone health, cardiopulmonary fitness, balance and quality of life. This kind of exercise can help prevent falls and strengthen your spine. Tai Chi is traditionally practiced outside, so you shouldn’t have a problem finding an outdoor class in your area.
If back pain is keeping you from exercising and enjoying the outdoors, call Dr. Sharma so he and his team can help you get up and moving.