Being Active with Arthritis
Arthritis is a series of musculoskeletal disorders that largely affect the joints, causing pain, stiffness, swelling to people of all ages and all races. The three most common kinds of arthritis are osteoarthritis (OA), rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and juvenile arthritis (JA).
A fairly common mental image at the mention of arthritis is a senior citizen struggling to do simple things like write a letter or dial a telephone because of the intense joint pain in their hands or wrists.
While this sort of image would lead one to believe that physical activity should be restrained for arthritic patients, the opposite is actually true. Studies are suggesting that there is a strong correlation between doing aerobic and resistance exercises with benefits for people with OA and RA.
Several research firms across the globe indicate that exercise can, in fact, prevent OA especially when it is combined with avoiding joint injuries and managing one’s weight.
Considering what a pounding your body goes through on a daily basis, an interesting fact to remember when considering exercise and arthritis is that one pound of weight loss equals four pounds of pressure taken off your knees.
When first suffering from arthritis, the thought of exercising can seem like an impossible dream and a dangerous risk. The best thing any arthritis sufferer can do then is ask their physician first about what sort of exercise regimen their condition will allow them to safely do.
The benefits of regular activity and exercise for arthritis sufferers are huge.
• Decreased pain
• Increased muscle strength and endurance
• Increased bone strength and quality
• Healthy joints
• Increased joint range of motion
• Enhanced ability to perform everyday activities
• Greater fitness level
• Better sleep
• Improved balance
• Reduced risk of falls
• Enhanced self-confidence
• Healthy body weight
• Improved ability to manage stress
Range-of-motion exercises (stretching/flexibility) are a great place to start for those battling arthritis, as these exercises can combat stiffness. They are also very routine, involving things as simple as rolling your shoulders forward and backwards, stretching your legs as you would when you first wake up or lifting your arms up over your head. Some people find that performing yoga is also helpful.
Once you have increased your flexibility, you can consider doing strength-building exercises that can increase your muscle mass which will in turn protect your joints as well as support them. This is the kind of exercise where arthritis sufferers must be very aware of their condition and make sure to take ample time off between workouts to make sure they don’t suffer any complications.
Aerobic exercise is one of the toughest to maintain but also has some of the best benefits. One of the tougher parts of suffering from arthritis involves being limited physically as joint and muscle pain become prevalent. A popular way to keep these body parts healthy while still getting a workout is to do so in the pool, where the impact on body parts is greatly reduced thanks to the natural buoyancy of the water. Pool workouts include water aerobics, swimming or water running.
To learn more about being active with arthritis, please consult with your physician and/or go to www.arthritis.ca.
Until Next Time, Keep Fit & Have Fun
Hal & Joanne