Arthritis causes stiff and painful joints, and limits a person’s ability to move around with ease. If you have this condition, exercising (combination of strength and cardio) can help improve your range of movements and comfort. Inflamed joints will require adequate rest, about two to three days. Once the inflammation is gone, then you can slowly incorporate exercise into your daily routine. Read on to know more about choosing the right exercises for you and how it can help you manage your arthritis.
Benefits of exercising with arthritis
People with arthritis should exercise regularly to enjoy:
- Higher fitness level
- Improved muscle strength
- Greater ability to perform daily tasks
- Improved emotional well-being
Regular exercise can also help you maintain a healthy weight and heart health. Some exercises may help improve bone strength, and lower your risk of osteoporosis or the thinning of bones.
Arthritis patients can choose among these exercise options:
Walking is good for nearly everyone, unless it has become too painful to do. This activity helps strengthen the bones, and aerobic endurance. The American College of Sports Medicine has recommended doing moderate to hard intensity workouts three to five days a week, 30 minutes per session. This means you will need to hit 60 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate, and hold it within the given time frame. If you are just starting, 10 minutes of walking per day will suffice, and then gradually increase the duration and intensity as you progress.
This activity involves working out in a swimming pool that is usually warm. Also called hydrotherapy, water exercising has become increasingly popular for the past few years. It is, in fact, one of the most comfortable activities for people with arthritis. The environment is safe on the joints because the water supports the patient’s weight. Water exercise is highly beneficial for people with joint issues, especially those who find it challenging to workout on land.
Yoga is a great exercise for nearly everyone, even those with tender and swollen joints. It involves doing deep relaxation techniques to boost the immune system, overall mood, and reduce joint inflammation. It promotes gentle stretching to help improve mobility and stability. Not all types of yoga, however, are safe on the joints. Avoid hot yoga, power yoga, and flow or Vinyasa because they increase the body temperature and may put excessive pressure on the patient’s joints.
Pilates is a great mental and physical exercise. It helps stabilize the joints, strengthens the muscles, and improves mental focus. The exercise promotes proper breathing as you carefully perform the movements that target the whole body.
The shoulder bridge is one of the most popular moves, where you will be asked to lie on your back and bend the knees with your arms along your sides. This move involves exhaling with your lips pursed as you contract your stomach and lift your pelvis without over flexing the knees or arching the back. You must hold this position for a bit before slowly bringing your back to the ground, and preparing for the next repetition.
Stretching is good for anyone, as long as you do not overdo it. You can use a strap or a chair to help you loosen the joints and muscles. It is important that you do every day, whenever possible, to keep joints from getting stiff and your body flexible.
Tai Chi involves doing smooth and fluid movements. This ancient Chinese martial arts help improve the flow of energy, or the Qi, throughout your body. It is believed to help promote relaxation and good health. There are many different tai chi styles that you can try, but it is best to ask your doctor which type suits your condition best.