Does Exercise Help Arthritis?
“People with arthritis who exercise regularly have less pain, more energy, improved sleep, and better day-to-day function,” according to the American College of Rheumatology. That makes it pretty clear that the right kind of exercise can definitely help arthritis sufferers enjoy a better quality of life. How does exercise help arthritis? What kinds of exercise should people with arthritis opt for? Knowing the answers to those questions is helpful as you create your arthritis-friendly exercise plan.
How Does Exercise Help Arthritis?
As Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center explains, the increased muscle weakness, joint stiffness, fatigue, and reduced range of motion that so many arthritis patients complain about are all generally aggravated by inactivity. Rest may be important during flare-ups, but too much rest can do more harm than good. That’s why doctors and rheumatologists consistently urge their patients to balance rest with safe, arthritis-friendly forms of exercise.
What Exercises Are Arthritis-Friendly?
Exercise won’t cure arthritis, but it can help preserve the joints and improve strength, endurance, balance, and range of motion so that you feel more comfortable as you complete your desired activities. However, to get the most benefit, you’ll want to choose forms of physical activity that provide exercise without straining or damaging the joints. It’s also helpful if you have several different types of activities that you can rotate between so that you don’t get bored. Fortunately, there are several possibilities for arthritis-friendly exercises:
- Walking. Walking is a low-impact activity that requires no skills or special equipment. Pick a flat surface and a pair of quality shoes, and you’re good to go.
- Swimming. Exercising in the water is an excellent way to protect your joints because there’s minimal pressure in this environment.
- Water aerobics. If you want to enjoy the benefits of working out in the water, but you want something more social than swimming laps, water aerobics is a perfect pick. Classes are open to all ages and skill levels and provide a way to build strength and coordination. Plus, the water offers a natural cushion, so there’s no need to worry about falls that might result in injury.
- Biking. Riding a bike can be a fun way to break a sweat without stressing your joints. You can opt to take a bike path to see more of the world around you or stick with an exercise bike if you’re worried about taking a tumble.
- Tai chi. Sometimes called shadowboxing, tai chi is an ancient Chinese practice that combines flowing movements and stretches with mindfulness practices. There are countless approaches, so finding one that you’re comfortable with is often a matter of simply trying a few different classes or teachers.
- Dancing. Finding a low-impact dance class can be a fun way to work up a sweat and keep arthritis pain at bay. Whether you take a partner or go solo, you’ll get your heart rate up and improve your health.
Are There Tips for Exercising with Arthritis?
Is your favorite form of exercise safe for someone with arthritis? If you’re not sure, talking with your doctor or physical therapist could help you decide. Mount Sinai offers some basic tips for exercising with arthritis:
- Avoid jarring movements.
- Don’t take pain medications before a workout. Doing so might mask the signs of an injury.
- Pace yourself. If you’re new to exercise, start slow. Increase your workout as you build strength and endurance.
- Wear proper footwear. For example, choose supportive footwear if you’re walking. If you’re supposed to be using orthotics, do so.
- Plan your route. Consider safety. Choose a flat route to protect your joints.
- Be mindful of alignment and posture.
Arthritis pain can be limiting if you let it, so finding ways to fight back is appealing. Exercise offers a drug-free, doctor-approved way to combat and manage arthritis.
At the Crossings at Riverview, we understand the importance of empowering seniors. That’s why our team is always ready to support healthy habits and healthy minds for our residents.