Why Exercise is Essential When You Have Arthritis and the Best Ways to Get Moving

Why Exercise is Essential When You Have Arthritis and the Best Ways to Get Moving

Did you know that exercise is one of the most effective treatments for arthritis? Though many people worry that exercise may harm their arthritic joints, staying active does the opposite: It helps slow down the progressive joint damage.

If you think you just can’t tolerate exercise, remember that you only need about 2-3 hours of easy-going exercise each week to improve your arthritic joints.

And getting exercise doesn’t mean doing calisthenics in a gym. You can get great health benefits from activities that may not seem like exercise, such as taking a walk, riding a bike, dancing, gardening, or raking leaves.

Hector Fabregas, MD, and the team at Healthstone Primary Care work closely with you, creating an exercise plan that works for your condition and lifestyle. Schedule an appointment any time you’re ready to get started, but in the meantime, here’s a rundown on how exercise can improve your condition and how you can get started.

How exercise treats arthritis

Exercise is an essential part of treating arthritis because getting regular exercise:

Exercise also makes it easier to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight. Carrying extra weight places tremendous stress on the joints, which, in turn, can increase pain and joint degeneration. 

Tips before you begin exercising

These tips can help turn your exercise regimen into a success and boost your health:

Build up slowly

If you haven’t been active, start out with a small amount of activity, even if that means just a few minutes a day. Pay attention to your body and how well your joint tolerates the new movement. If you feel fine, add another 5-10 minutes. Then, as you get comfortable with that, add a few more minutes. Build up at a pace that works for you.

Go low impact

Joint-friendly exercise simply means low impact activities. While exercise is essential, you still need to be gentle on your joints. Exercises, such as walking and bicycling, are joint friendly. Another great way to exercise without putting stress on your joints is to engage in water aerobics.

Don’t overdo it

If your joint is sore for longer than two hours after you exercise, you’ve done more than the joint can tolerate. You may need to cut back the next time or even rest for a day and then start again. We can guide you on when pain is normal and when it’s a sign to take it easy.

Modify your activities

Modify your activity on days when you have more joint pain and stiffness than usual. For example, instead of cycling, take a slow walk or go to the pool. That way you can stay active without increasing your pain.

Stick with it

Fatigue, pain, and stiffness can make it a challenge to exercise. But remember that exercise can counteract and improve all those problems. The longer you stick with your exercise plan, the better you’ll feel.

Be careful during a rheumatoid arthritis flare-up

Overusing an actively inflamed joint may aggravate your arthritis. You should be able to keep doing gentle range-of-motion exercises, but temporarily skip or modify activities that cause pain.

Exercises for arthritis

When creating an arthritis exercise plan, be sure to include three types of exercises:

Range-of-motion (flexibility) exercises

These exercises can improve joint movement, relieve stiffness, and boost flexibility by gently stretching and moving your joint. It’s important to try to do these exercises daily.

Strengthening exercises

As the muscles supporting your joint get stronger, they will help reduce stress on the joint. Strengthening exercises target specific muscle groups, giving them a harder workout compared to range-of-motion exercises. Examples of strengthening exercises include lifting your leg against gravity and using hand-held weights or elastic bands that provide resistance.

Aerobic exercises

Aerobic exercises work the large muscles in your body, increasing your heart rate, breathing, and muscle function. Safe aerobic exercises for people with arthritis include cycling, aquatic exercises, walking, and treadmill sessions. But don’t overlook regular daily activities, such as taking a brisk walk with your dog.

If you need help with any aspect of arthritis, whether it be an exercise plan, nutritional counseling, or ongoing management, book an appointment online or over the phone with Healthstone Primary Care today.

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