Best Cardio Options for People with Back Pain

best cardio options for helping with back pain

Suffering from back pain is not a pleasant thing in life. It can affect our mobility, our decisions and most certainly our mood. Chronic lower back pain plagues many people the world over.In fact, one factor which is often hard to decide on is whether exercise is good or bad for such individuals.

If you suffer from lower back pain you may be struggling with the same dilemma. Certainly, you know that exercise is a good thing for your overall health, however, your back pain makes you feel nervous about engaging in forms of physical activity.

You may worry that you could exacerbate the problem. On top of that, when you are dealing with constant back pain, exercising doesn’t always feel like an attractive pursuit.

Of course, anyone suffering from a health condition such as back pain should always consult their healthcare provider to understand what type of exercise would be the best option for their specific condition.

Below we have highlighted information which you can discuss with your healthcare provider.

Is Exercise Good For Back Pain?

a woman gets ready to exercise

Going back a few decades, people who were suffering from back pain were often told to rest and move as little as possible.

These days the advice is very different and with good reason. Many healthcare practitioners will tell us that the best way to cope with back pain is to stay active and to keep doing regular exercise as much as we can.

This means that adopting a sedentary life in the hope that it will relieve back pain could actually result in the opposite occurring. However, why is this advice given? How does exercise help back pain?

When we exercise, the discs in our back are allowed to exchange fluids, it is actually this process which allows the discs to receive nutrients. When a disc is healthy it will fill with water and then squeeze the water out, this action is similar to a sponge.

Another factor involved is that of swelling reduction in soft tissues found in the same area as injured discs. When we do not exercise, swelling can happen and the disc can become malnourished, this, in turn, can lead to further issues.

Stiffness can also be alleviated to some extent when we exercise. Moving keeps the fibers of tendons and ligaments in a more flexible state. This, in turn, prevents them from tearing which would result in further back pain or even a serious injury.

In addition, exercise can strengthen, repair and stretch muscles in the back. Strengthening these muscles can go a long way in the individual seeing an improvement in the intensity of their back pain.

Is The Elliptical Good For Lower Back Pain?

bowflex elliptical bxe116

Also known as the cross trainer, the elliptical trainer (read our review of the Bowflex Elliptical here) simulates various aerobic exercises such as walking, skiing and stair-stepping.

Normally, the user can adjust the incline, as well as the resistance levels, so that it is at a level suitable to the individual. In addition, use of an elliptical trainer tends to only put low levels of stress on the spine and joints.

For these reasons you may find that this form of exercise is beneficial for your back pain.

Top 3 Best Exercises For Lower Back Pain

1. Walking


This form of aerobic exercise doesn’t need to cost you anything, yet it can be very effective. However, we are not talking about a wander down the street here, that may do little in terms of helping your overall health or your back pain. Instead, we are referring to exercise walking.

This is a fast-paced exercise which will elevate your heart rate and gently work your muscles.

While jogging can be more aggressive to your spine and joints, exercise walking tends to be a more gentle approach and can be done almost anywhere.

While walking outdoors is wonderful in good weather, if the weather is cold or rainy you can use a treadmill or find a suitable indoor venue.

2. Stationary Bicycle

schwinn 270 recumbent bike

Image via Amazon

Taking a bicycle on terrain can expose your back to a lot of jostling around. With a stationary bicycle, you can enjoy all of the benefits of this aerobic exercise without worrying about the stress side of things.

Some spinning classes can provide an excellent option for people with lower back pain or you may choose to purchase one for home use or head to the gym.

If you decide to by one for home use be sure to choose a model which offers back support with an adjustable seating position – see our favorite stationary bike here.

3. Swimming

Swimming can be a great way to help with back pain

Swimming can be an excellent option for people suffering from back pain. The natural buoyancy of the water provides plenty of support for the back and joints.

This means you are putting less stress on your body. In addition, the water provides resistance which can make this form of exercise yield excellent results.

Your healthcare provider may recommend specific strokes or water exercises which will have the best impact on your lower back and overall health.

If you enjoy other peoples’ company when exercising, you may enjoy joining a water aerobics class. Be sure to advise the instructor at the start of your lower back issue.

They may be able to advise you on specific exercises which will be of more benefit to you, as well as suggest that you modify certain exercises if necessary.

Final Thoughts

Indeed, living with lower back pain can be a cause of real stress and anxiety in life. However, it doesn’t need to stop you from staying active.

In fact, it is very likely that your health care provider will agree with the fact that staying active can work wonders for the pain level that you experience.

Exercise can allow the discs in your back to nourish themselves. In addition, it can help our muscles, tissues, and ligaments to become stronger more flexible and more resilient to stress.

We hope that the information we have outlined above will help you to seek professional advice and create an exercise plan that will stop your back pain from taking over your life.