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Low impact exercises will help baby boomers traveling during the holidays

Knee Room BAAbout one out of five baby boomers will travel over the holidays, according to research by AARP. But, for the about 10 million Americans age 50 and older who suffer from knee pain due to osteoarthritis sitting on cramped airplane seats, long train rides, or walking along cobblestone streets in Europe can be daunting

Bill Barrett, M.D., orthopedic surgeon at Valley Medical Center in the Seattle area, suggests low impact exercises to strengthen joints and alleviate knee pain that can be used with any mode of transportation and at any destination. Barrett recommends:

  • Stretch out your quads: It’s important to stretch so joints don’t get stiff. A quadricep stretch is easy to do at a rest stop during a long car ride or waiting at the airport gate. Holding on to a secure surface for balance such as the back of a chair or side of the car, lift one foot and bring your heel up toward your buttocks. Grasp your ankle with your hand and pull your heel closer to your body. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Switch legs.
  • Try supine leg raises: They’re best to do when you reach your destination or after a long day of walking. Lie flat on your back with your arms at sides, one leg bent and the other straight. Keeping your toes flexed, tighten the thigh muscles in your straight leg and slowly lift it straight up, until it is about a foot off the floor. Hold it for three to five seconds. Slowly lower your leg to the floor. Repeat and switch sides. Perform two to four sets of eight to 12 repetitions for each leg.
  • Keep moving: Standing in line or sitting in a small airplane seat can make your arthritis pain worse. Take small opportunities to move your joints, whether you bend your knees while waiting in line or get up to walk around the plane aisles every hour.

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