Arthritis & Exercise
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Staying still might reduce pain sensations, but is not good for circulation, joints, ligaments, or muscles. It seems contradictory to encourage regular, consistent, and vigorous exercise when someone is in pain, but that is, in fact, the recommendation of doctors for people who have arthritis.
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Managing the pain and reducing the inflammation of arthritis is done, in part, by “maintaining the maximum possible use of affected joints,” state the authors of “Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions.” Therefore, regular and consistent physical exercise is beneficial to keep the joints moving and from becoming inflamed. A primary care provider may recommend an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication to decrease pain. “Although exercise may increase pain temporarily, this is normal during joint and muscle reconditioning,” explain the authors of “Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions.” “In fact, failing to exercise can increase arthritis symptoms because of loss of joint mobility and physical deconditioning.”
The Arthritis Foundation recommends many types of exercise as “arthritis-friendly” to do:
- Walking: It’s free and can be done in a variety of locales. The benefits range from joint support, improved circulation, weight loss, reduces the possibility of fractures, and more.
- Yoga: There are many styles of yoga to choose from and it can be done in the privacy of one’s home or at a local class.
- Tai Chi: A gentle strengthening exercise that is less strenuous than some styles of yoga.
- Golf: With the right adjustments to the swing, golf can remain a frequent exercise for someone living with arthritis.
- Bicycling: During inclement weather or if safety is a concern, use an indoor stationary bike for some exercise.
- Dancing: A social way to stay fit.
Stretching is also recommended before any exercise. And be sure to always wear shoes that fit properly and appropriate gear for any of these activities. Contact a health provider with questions about the best exercise for you or a loved one who has arthritis.