It is recommended that everyone performs some form of exercise at least three times per week and preferably every day. Walking, bike riding and swimming are excellent ways to improve or maintain your general fitness if you have a back or neck problem. However working against gravity through walking and bike riding is probably preferable to swimming. If commencing a programme of walking, do so gradually and set yourself goals each week to walk for an increased distance or for an increased period of time. This will help you to keep track of the progress you are making.
Whilst specific exercises to improve core strength may be an advantage, remember that if you are simply walking and keeping active, that you will also be increasing your core strength.
Flexibility and stretching exercises are not important and can aggravate symptoms. Indeed such exercises should be avoided as we grow older, since the natural tendency is for nature to stiffen the spine as part of a compensatory mechanism.
There is no excuse for not walking an hour every day, building up in a graduated fashion. More intense interval type aerobic training may be indicated in some situations.
Whilst Pilates type exercises are supported and are fashionable, aerobic exercise is the mainstay.
It is important to remember that the benefit will not be apparent immediately, and the benefit obtained is dependent on the effort you invest trying to improve your fitness.
Nobody else can do this for you !!
Exercise may not eliminate pain completely, but will at least decrease the frequency and severity of episodes of pain. It is important to continue regular exercise, even during episodes of pain wherever possible. It is however reasonable to decrease the time that you spend walking etc, and once the pain settles, gradually work your way back up to what you were able to do before the pain increased.