Try these workout aids…

Let’s face it. Exercise sometimes hurts. So when we fear that our bodies might rebel, we’re tempted to put off exercise or even skip it.

That’s a shame because it doesn’t make sense to deprive ourselves of exercise—it’s hands-down the most powerful health protector there is. So what’s the solution?

By choosing the right workout aids, you can dramatically ease the discomfort of key exercise routines. Here’s what works best for…

STRETCHING

Who among us isn’t just a little—or a lot—stiff and achy at times? Stretching is perhaps the best exercise you can do to loosen up those tight, inflexible muscles. It will help limber you up and improve your range of motion—both of which make it easier to do day-to-day activities such as grabbing groceries off a high shelf.

But if you’re not very flexible to begin with, stretching is likely to cause some discomfort.

What helps: Gaiam Multi-Grip Stretch Strap ($12.98, Gaiam.com). With multiple handholds along the strap, this product allows you to ease into your stretches with greater control than you could on your own or if you relied on a regular strap without handholds.

WALKING

Walking is the easiest, most approachable workout there is. But if you’ve got pain due to arthritis, back problems or a hip or other joint replacement…or balance problems, even walking can be difficult.

Adding walking poles helps reduce impact on your joints, normalize your gait and improve your balance. The addition of poles also helps to boost your cardio endurance and increase your caloric burn—with poles, your heart rate will be 10% to 15% higher compared with traditional walking, and you’ll burn about 400 calories per hour versus 280 calories.

What helps: ACTIVATOR Poles ($99.99 per pair, UrbanPoling.com). These aren’t just any old walking poles. They feature bell-shaped, rubber tips for added grip and reduced vibration. With a doctor’s prescription, this product may be covered by insurance.

Also: For people with peripheral neuropathy, a type of nerve damage that leads to numbness, tingling and/or weakness in the feet and other limbs, it can be tough to rely on walking as a form of exercise.

What helps: WalkJoy ($3,495 per pair, WalkJoy.com). This device is attached with straps worn below the knees. Sensors in the device signal healthy nerves around the knees (which are unaffected by peripheral neuropathy), letting your brain know that one foot has hit the ground and it’s time to lift the toes of the opposite foot for another step. WalkJoy is FDA-approved and available by prescription.

SWIMMING

Swimming is a great low-impact, whole-body exercise for people who are watching their weight, building cardio strength or looking for relief from arthritis pain.

For the average recreational swimmer, however, efficient breathing can be challenging. Many swimmers feel like they’re struggling for air…or their necks tire or become painful from constantly twisting and lifting.

What helps: Finis Swimmer’s Snorkel ($35.99, FinisInc.com). Un­like many snorkels, which are designed for scuba divers, this product was created specifically for swimmers. Its adjustable head bracket lets you wear it with a swim cap and/or goggles while allowing you to keep your head in a fixed position so that you don’t have to remove your mouth from the water to breathe.

CYCLING

Riding a bicycle is another great low-impact exercise. It has been shown to improve muscle strength and promote lung and heart health. The problem is, traditional bike saddles (on both stationary and road bikes) place a lot of pressure on the perineum (the area between the genitals and the anus). This contributes to pain and erectile dysfunction in men and numbness in women.

What helps: ISM Cruise Saddle ($99.95, ISMseat.com). This is a noseless saddle, which directly supports your “sits” bones (at the base of the buttocks) while easing pressure on the perineum. Research has found that no-nose saddles reduce most perineal pressure in male riders and improve penile blood flow when compared with traditional bike seats. No-nose saddles also reduce numbness in women.