Exercise for people with arthritis? You might think this is a crazy idea, but actually, exercise allows people with arthritis to improve their physical function and control their pain. Those who have it are often scared to move because they think that it will hurt but the truth is, their condition would only worsen if they choose to keep still during most of the day.
So how does one start with an exercise program? Do not forget to consult your doctor before beginning any physical activity. You might also want to be assisted by a therapist when you begin so you can have support and help during the process. The type of exercise depends on the form of arthritis a person has. You may start with slow exercises and few stretches. Those activities that increase flexibility are also advised to improve your motion range.
Regular moderate forms of exercise offer plenty of benefits to the body. They reduce joint pains and rigidity, increase muscle endurance and strength, build muscles around the joints, restore joint flexibility, and decrease the risks of developing other diseases such as osteoporosis and heart disease. Once you are used to those moderate physical activities, you may begin moving on to weight training, bicycling and other endurance exercises.
Some people who are in pain join underwater exercise programs such as water walking. If these rigid exercise programs prove to be stressful to you, you may also consider taking a yoga class or play some golf with friends.
Here is a more detailed explanation as to the exercises that you should consider to beat your arthritis:
1. Stretching Exercises. These should be done everyday before beginning other forms of physical activities. Stretching allows you to warm up to get your body moving and helps relax your muscles in preparation for more strenuous activities. Work up to 15 minutes of stretching, preferably without stopping. Some advanced stretching exercises include tai chi and yoga.
2. Strengthening Exercises. These forms of exercise help build your muscles so you will be able to protect your joints from being injured. When muscles work hard, they become strong, thereby lessening the stress on your joints. Do these every other day after stretching.
3. Cardiovascular Activities. Walk, dance, swim or ride a bicycle to make your muscles, heart, lungs and blood vessels work more efficiently. Also called endurance exercises, these activities improve the body’s endurance, build strong bones, help improve sleep, and reduce risks, anxiety and depression. You should include endurance exercises in your workout three to four times each week, 30 minutes each session. However, not every arthritis patient can perform endurance activities, especially those with long-term rheumatoid arthritis.
As mentioned above, you should discuss your plans with your doctor before starting any programs. While exercise is advised, there are forms of these activities that may be off-limits to a certain patient because they could cause further joint damage. Be sure to consider your type of arthritis, inflammation levels, joints affected, joint stability and other physical limitations before undergoing any physical activity. Moreover, to obtain maximum benefits, it is important to exercises consistently. In addition, start at low intensity levels and build up gradually, for too much or too intense exercise can worsen the symptoms. If there is too much pain, do not exercise. The best time to exercise is when there is minimum pain and stiffness of the body.