If you’ve had to have a break from exercise due to an injury you may be tempted to stop altogether, or you may be worried about a repeat injury. However, it’s important for you to keep getting regular exercise, so you should try to get back into your routine as soon as you can. You might like to consider alternative non-weight bearing exercises such as swimming or cycling.
What if I’ve had significant injuries?
Most of us will have had minor injuries in the past, but it shouldn’t stop you from exercising if you’ve made a full and unproblematic recovery. However, if you’ve had a previous major injury such as a complicated bone fracture, major ligament tear or cartilage injury then you should get advice from a physiotherapist, a sports and exercise medicine specialist, personal trainer or sports coach.
What if I have a longer-term medical problem?
If you have an ongoing medical problem, you should seek advice from your GP or the specialist who’s looking after you before increasing or altering your level of physical activity. But remember also that illness or disability is no barrier to getting regular exercise.
What can happen if I don’t exercise?
Being physically inactive is a risk factor for many chronic diseases. One particular risk if you stop exercising completely is becoming overweight. As well as potentially damaging your heart, being overweight can put extra strain on your joints and research has shown that there’s a direct link between obesity and osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a painful and disabling condition that affects the joints in the body.
The cartilage that cushions the joint gradually roughens and becomes thin, while at the same time the bone underneath the cartilage thickens. There’s evidence to suggest that joint damage caused by some sports injuries, both traumatic and overuse injuries, can lead to developing osteoarthritis in later life. It’s therefore very important to exercise safely and learn the right techniques to help prevent injury and potential long-term damage.
If you're overweight, it would be useful to think about which particular exercises to take up so as not to cause damage to your joints. Jogging for example might put too much strain on your joints, so walking, swimming, cycling or gym sessions may be a safer route into regular exercise.