Monday, May 8, 2017

Exercising With Arthritis

Exercise is important for everyone to include in their daily schedule, even those with arthritis.  Research shows that those with arthritis can take part in safe regular exercise.  People with rheumatoid arthritis can benefit from moderate intensity, weight-bearing activity.  Those with osteoarthritis can benefit in programs that combine strengthening and aerobic exercise.  Exercising with arthritis will help to reduce symptoms, improve joint motion and function, enhance coordination and balance, and control body weight.  There are three types of exercise that makes up all exercise programs that can have positive effects on reducing arthritis-related pain and disability.  These include flexibility, strengthening, and aerobic exercises.

Flexibility exercises contribute to reduced risk of injuries, better posture and improved function.  Range of motion (ROM) and stretching exercises help to maintain or improve the flexibility in affected joints and surrounding muscles.  You can perform ROM exercises multiple times a day, every day.  There are benefits to performing the ROM in the morning and night.  If you perform ROM exercises at night, you will wake up with less joint stiffness.  If you perform ROM exercises in the morning, it will help thin the fluid and get the joints moving.  You can do these ROM exercises 3-5 days a week, 5-10 times a day for 15-30 seconds for each exercise.  Suggested programs are Yoga and Tai Chi. 

Strengthening exercises work the muscles much harder.  The more strength training you do, the stronger your muscles get, providing better joint support and reducing loading stress through the painful joint.  Muscle strength also helps reduce bone loss related to inactivity.  You can strength train 2-3 days a week at 8-10 repetitions for each exercise.  For older individuals, you can strength train 10-15 repetitions for each exercise with less resistance.  You want to ensure that the strength exercise challenges you without increasing your joint pain.  Suggested exercises include using hand held weights, elastic bands or weight machines.  Continue increasing the weight or resistance to continue improving.

Aerobic exercise improves your cardiorespiratory function by improving the heart, lung and muscle function.  Aerobic exercise also helps control weight, mood, sleep and overall health.  It is recommended to do aerobic exercise 150 minutes of moderate intensity per week over the course of a few days.  Those with more pain should exercise in several intervals in shorter sessions rather than long sessions.  Suggested exercises are walking, aerobic dancing, aquatic exercise, bicycling, stationary bikes, treadmills or elliptical trainer.  Daily activities can fall under aerobic exercise too; just increase the intensity level.

Like all other programs, consult your doctor to determine which program works best for you.  Find a time of day/week that works best in your schedule and make it a routine.  Go to a gym, a pool, take a class, do a DVD in the comfort of your own home or go outside.  It is important to listen to your body and be aware of any changes in your arthritis symptoms.  You may need to change up your routine based on how you feel.  Happy Exercising!

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