Biking. Swimming. Running. Rowing. Cardiovascular exercise is just what doctors order to maintain healthy weight and prevent heart disease. You don’t want to let a history of back or joint pain keep you from this beneficial activity. Once the pain subsides, it’s time to begin exercising.

RELATED: The Importance of Strength Training

If you haven’t started already, begin by determining which type of cardiovascular exercise will work for your body without initially aggravating your back and/or joints. Though your body may be sensitive at first, there are a couple of general rules:

  1. If your pain was aggravated by backward bending at the waist or prolonged standing or walking, then cycling or other seated forms of cardiovascular exercise, such as rowing, may work best for you.
  2. If you know that your pain was aggravated by prolonged sitting in a car, at your desk or on flights, then walking, uphill hiking, swimming or elliptical machines can be the best place to start.

Give the cardio exercise a “test run”: just do 5 to 10 minutes and STOP. If you feel fine the next day, increase your time to 15 to 20 minutes, and so on. Most people max out at 45 to 60 minutes.

Expand into other forms of cardiovascular exercise as you feel more comfortable. But beware: running is the exception! Running is particularly challenging for many chronic back and neck pain sufferers. If running is your passion, ease into it once your pain has totally resolved or significantly decreased.

For most people with back and neck pain, cycling is one of the best forms of cardiovascular exercise. To learn you how to fit your bike and structure your workouts, we’ve added a cycling program to BACKFOREVER under Best Back and Body FOREVER.

Cardiovascular exercise can be done alone or on days when you strength train. Recent studies show that 20 minutes of intense cardiovascular exercise—such as High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)—can be just as, or more, effective than 45 minutes of steady state workouts.

So, get moving with your BACKFOREVER program. Safely, confidently, painlessly.