Exercise and Arthritis

Arthritis, Healthy Aging, Healthy Living
on June 27, 2011

If you have arthritis, you are not down and out. Many treatment options are available, with more coming every day. The Arthritis Foundation advises that adding exercise to your daily life is one of the most effective and progressive choices you can make in managing your arthritis. Take charge of your health by speaking with your doctor about exercise and arthritis, and get on the path to wellness today.

Take time for a good stretch. We all feel the impulse to stretch after a nice catnap. There’s a reason for that! The movement gets the blood flowing throughout the body. Increased blood flow causes oxygen to pass through the joints, providing needed nutrients and removing waste — very important for you if you have arthritis. Stretching also assists your body in staying flexible and maintaining and improving your range of motion. Try all types of stretches to keep yourself interested in exercise. Tai chi has been touted as a wonderful exercise for people living with arthritis. It is low impact and soothing to the mind and body.

Strengthen muscles for the ultimate support. It’s always nice to get a little help here and there, but good muscle strength is your joint’s best assistant. Do not be afraid of resistance training. You don’t need to lift heavy weights to strengthen your muscles. Try simple isometric moves that involve tightening a muscle and holding it for a short period of time. Repeating this tightening is similar to lifting a dumbbell and can be just as effective. If your doctor says it's OK, try using very light weights for additional resistance training. The stronger your muscles, the better your joints are protected.

Put on your records and dance. Dancing or any other safe aerobic activity — such as swimming, walking and bicycling — can be tremendously useful in managing the symptoms and progression of arthritis. Three or four sessions of at least five minutes are enough to get great results and have a little fun. Increase the time you exercise slowly and gradually. As you get stronger, you will find you are able to do more than you ever thought possible. The goal is to get moving. It doesn’t matter what you look like or how much you can do — just do something.