“I Can’t Exercise, I Have Arthritis!”

Arthritis is painful. It limits your range of motion. It hurts to move! So most people come to the understandable conclusion that, “I can’t exercise, I have arthritis.” However, a lack of movement or exercise will actually increase your pain and stiffness.

In contrast, exercise is important to increase your muscle strength, which is necessary to stabilize your joints. Unstable joints take on more pressure and increase the effects of arthritis. Exercise is also important to maintain flexibility, decrease pain, fight fatigue, maintain bone strength, ensure more energy, make it easier to sleep, help with weight control, increase your balance, and improve your quality of life!

It can be daunting to start a new habit though, which is why it is important to talk with your doctor or physical therapist about an exercise plan that is doable and will least aggravate your symptoms. Below are a few ideas of different kinds of exercise that can benefit you and help you manage your arthritis!

1) Range of Motion Exercises: Range of motion just means moving your joint through its full available range, which may end up providing a stretch. You can perform these daily, as they help decrease stiffness.

2) Strengthening Exercises: This helps your muscles and surrounding tissues better support your joints. Be careful not to exercise the same muscle group two days in a row. Take an extra day or two in between exercise sessions if your joint pain and swelling flare up.

3) Aerobic Exercises: This type of exercise improves your overall fitness, improves cardiovascular health, helps with weight control, and increases your stamina/energy. Get involved in low-impact activities like walking, bicycling, swimming, or using the elliptical. The goal is to work up to 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per week. If you can carry on a conversation while exercising even though your breathing rate is faster, that is moderate aerobics.

Any other type of activity, no matter how small, such as washing dishes, doing some light yard work, going to a water aerobics class, and taking yoga or Tai chi can all help prevent falls as well as improve your posture, coordination, and ability to relax.

Here are some TIPS to keep from overdoing it: Keep your exercise at a low impact, use heat therapy, move gently to warm up for 10 minutes, go slowly, and use ice afterwards.

There you have it. You now have an arsenal of ideas to get you moving! Because MOVING will HELP your arthritis!!!

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