Arthritis can be Treated with Exercise
A tailored exercise program that addresses arthritis pain can relieve fatigue, as well as help preserve and protect joint structure.
As arthritis causes stiffness, pain, swelling and limitation in the motion of joints, it can lead to a reduction of joint range (the amount of movement that joints can make in certain directions). Exercising because you are experiencing pain or discomfort can cause significant weight loss, and even lead to muscle loss. As part of an arthritis treatment program, exercise can help improve your joint mobility and muscle strength. It also helps you to maintain a healthy weight.
You and your physician or physical therapist should be aware of the type of arthritis that you have. This will allow you to develop a plan of exercise and prevent future complications.
What are the benefits of exercise as an arthritis treatment? An exercise program with a combination of strengthening and endurance exercises, can help relieve symptoms and protect the joints against further damage. Also, exercise may be beneficial:
Maintain normal joint movements Increase muscle strength and flexibility Help reduce the pressure on your joints by losing weight. Help to keep bones and cartilage healthy. Improve endurance and cardiovascular fitness. What are Range-of-Motion exercises? People with arthritis tend to keep the affected joints bent, especially in their knees, hands and fingers, in order to relieve pain. This may relieve some discomfort temporarily, but too long in one position can result in permanent mobility loss and hinder daily activities.
By increasing mobility and flexibility, range-of motion exercises help to maintain joint function. This group of exercises can condition affected joints by gently straightening or bending them in a controlled way as long as is possible. The joints will be stretched further and farther to maintain their normal range or close to it during a range of motion program. This allows you to retain function while maintaining comfort.
Apart from preserving joint function and strengthening your endurance, range-of motion exercises should also be performed before you begin any physical activities. You can get instructions from a doctor or physical therapist on performing range-of motion exercises.
What are the benefits of strengthening exercises? Strengthening exercises can help strengthen weak muscles and keep them healthy and protected from further injury. As part of arthritis treatment, a program that strengthens specific muscles groups may be beneficial.
You can strengthen your muscles by doing a variety of exercises.
People with arthritis may be reluctant to exercise due to their joint pain. An exercise group called "isometrics," will strengthen the muscles, without damaging painful joints. Isometrics do not involve any joint movement, but instead strengthen muscles groups through an alternation series of muscle flexes followed by periods of relaxation.
Joint mobility can also be involved in isotonics. This exercise group is more challenging and can be used to develop strength.
An experienced physical therapist, or fitness instructor with experience with arthritis can show you how safely and effectively to perform isometric as well as isotonic exercise.
Hydrotherapy: What is it? Hydrotherapy is also known as "aqua therapy", or water therapy. It involves a series of exercises that are performed in a large swimming pool. Because of its buoyancy, aqua therapy is less painful for joints and provides resistance training.
What are endurance exercises? Cardiovascular exercise is the cornerstone of endurance training. It's any activity that elevates heart rate over a long period of time. To:
To provide oxygen more effectively to the whole body, build stronger muscles for endurance activities. When combined with a healthy diet and exercise, aerobic activity is essential for weight control (which is crucial for those with arthritis as it lowers pressure on their joints).
For the first time, arthritis patients should do aerobic activity for 15-20 minutes at least 3 times per week. Gradually, they can increase to 30 minutes daily. It should be at least 5-10 minutes long for warm-up and then five to 10 mins for cool-down.
Peak benefits can only be achieved if aerobic exercise is done continuously for 30 minutes. However, you may choose to do aerobic exercise in shorter segments throughout your day depending on your level of comfort and ability. Aerobic exercise should not be done at a fast pace. This will allow you to speak normally and clearly during the session. Talk to your therapist about the appropriate intensity for you.
Your heart should always be monitored during exercise to determine your "training range," which is the target heart rate. You should monitor your aerobic condition by calculating your maximum heart beat (which is 220 times your age) and exercising at an intensity of between 60% to 80%.
Aerobic activities can include swimming, walking, skiing, low-impact aerobic dancing, skiing, and bicycling. It may also include daily tasks such as mow the lawn, rake leaves, or golf. It is easy to start walking because you don't need any special equipment or skills. Walking also has a lower impact on your joints than running and jogging.
People with arthritis will also enjoy biking, which places less strain on the knees, feet, and ankle joints. It is also a good choice for arthritis sufferers because it places minimal pressure on your joints.
Most people suffering from arthritis can benefit from appropriate recreational activity, which includes sports. For a reduced chance of injury, these activities should be preceded with a programme of strength and range of motion exercises.
What are the best ways to get started with exercise? Before you start any exercise program, talk to your doctor about the best exercise option for you.
A program that only consists of strengthening and range-of motion exercises should be used by arthritis patients who start a new exercise regimen. This will depend on the level of their fitness and physical condition. It is best to add endurance exercises gradually and after your fitness levels have stabilized.
Your body may take some time to adjust to the new lifestyle. Initial changes may be noticed in how your muscles and sleep habits feel. Increased activity is normal and should be expected. But, inappropriate exercise programs or levels can make arthritis symptoms worse. If you have any of these symptoms, consult your doctor to adjust your exercise program.
You may experience persistent or unusual fatigue, increased strength and weakness, decreased range of motion, joint swelling or continued pain. It doesn't matter what exercise program you choose. You can make exercise a daily part of your life and it will become a habit.