25 September 2013
Arthritis and Exercise: Simple Exercises You Can Do To Help Soothe the Symptoms of Arthritis
Now the summer is well and truly gone and we’ve entered the cold and damp run-up to winter, those nagging aches and pains in your joints might be a little more noticeable.
The effects of arthritis can range from a bit of stiffness and discomfort to extreme pain and an inability to keep mobile. Limiting your activity might seem like the best course of action, but in fact studies indicate that exercise is the best way to combat the effects of arthritis.
It’s important to set achievable goals, especially when exercising with a chronic condition, and as always be sure to consult with your GP before undertaking any fitness regime. You need to make sure whatever you do includes stretching exercises to improve flexibility in the joints, strength exercises which will help the muscles which support the joints and also some aerobic activity to keep your heart in good order.
Here are some simple exercises that you can do to help soothe the symptoms of arthritis.
The old standby. Walking is great for arthritis sufferers, not only because it’s easily accessible but it’s also low-impact which takes stress off the joints. Walking allows you to get your heart rate up and helps improve bone density and joint strength. Start small, pick a short, level walk and try to maintain a pace that leaves you a little out of breath but still able to talk. To improve motivation, find a friend to go walking with.
Because arthritis impedes your range of motion it’s important to focus on exercises that can tackle this. The best thing you can do is some stretching. Focus on straightening and/or bending the joints in a controlled and steady manner. Make the stretch until you feel resistance and then gently ease past that point. There will be some discomfort but not serious pain. Make sure you hold stretches for between 30 and 60 seconds. A doctor or physiotherapist can provide you with some exercises that will help tackle your specific problem areas.
Any kind of exercise in water is good for arthritis sufferers. Being in water takes a lot of the weight off your joints which helps limit pain and allows for more vigorous exercise. This is perfect for people who have arthritis in the hips and legs. The water also adds resistance so any water-based workout is going to help improve your muscle tone. You can enjoy a simple swim or sign up for an aquatic aerobics class. The one downside to this form of exercise is that it doesn’t build bone density, so be sure to combine it with walking or another form of resistance training.
There are also other forms of more complex exercise that can help arthritis. Yoga or Tai Chi are both excellent for arthritis but these are definitely best taken in a class. You’ll find many beginners classes that will be suitable and both are low impact but help improve flexibility, bone density and muscle strength.
Don’t allow arthritis to stop you exercising or enjoying life. By committing to a regular exercise routine that is manageable you can alleviate the symptoms of this painful condition.