Staying Fit on a Sore Ankle

By Anne Davis , last updated December 11, 2011

Staying fit is important, even when you're nursing a sore ankle. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways that you can maintain your health without having to get up and go for a jog. In addition to watching your diet, you can try out arm cycling and strength training in order to stay fit until your ankle heals and you can get back to your regular exercise routine.


One of the best ways to stay fit while you're injured is to manage your diet. If you would like at the very least to maintain your current weight, you should determine how many calories you need to eat per day given your reduced state of physical activity. The Mayo Clinic hosts a site that calculates exactly that: you can just input your age, height, weight, and current level of physical activity for an estimation of the number of calories you need to consume to maintain your weight.

Once you determine how many calories you wish to consume, you can stay fit by ensuring that the foods that you eat are right for your body. Generally, consuming refined sugars and saturated fats is a sure way to unhealthy eating habits. Look to foods like skinless chicken and fish, whole grain rice, vegetables, nuts, and fruits.


Exercising on a sore ankle can be tricky, and you should know your limits. If in the course of your exercising you experience increased pain or if your pain does not go away after a reasonable amount of time, you should consult a physician immediately: it's possible that your sore ankle is the result of a torn ligament or tendon, and continuing to perform any sort of activity on it could cause serious damage. Fortunately, there are a variety of exercises that you can do to increase your heart rate without putting undue pressure on your ankle.

Arm Cycle

An arm cycle is like a stationary bike, but for your arms. Arm cycles can significantly improve your cardiovascular health without requiring you to put any stress whatsoever on your ankle. According to the American Council on Exercise, "kranking" (as arm cycling is known) burns, on average, between 9 and 13 calories per minute. The Council's study shows that kranking is an intense and effective workout that would be perfect for anyone dealing with a lower body injury.

Strength Training

In addition to cardiovascular exercising with the arm cycle, you can engage in strength training for your upper body and torso. Before beginning any strength training, you should warm up and stretch first to ensure that you don't injure other parts of your body.

You should consult a strength-training expert if you want to begin a serious strength-training regimen. If you've never lifted seriously before, you should start slowly. What's great about strength training is that there are a lot of exercises that you can do at home using your own body weight, including pull-ups and sit-ups.

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