Arthritis is a general term used for inflammation in the joints that causes stiffness and pain. By inculcating some simple changes in daily life, many people take steps to prevent pain or manage stiffness arising from arthritis and prevent the condition from worsening.
Why is exercise important?
There are more benefits to exercise than just weight loss. Arthritis friendly exercises can help in –
- Aid joint lubrication and nourishment
- Ease joint pain and stiffness
- Improve flexibility
- Build muscular strength
- Improve and maintain bone density
- Lower stress level and maintain a healthy body weight
Exercise Friendly approach to Arthritis
While exercising with painful joints can be difficult, there are several fitness routines that are well suited for people with arthritis. The focus here is on three exercise components:
- Range of motion exercises which can be done daily include movements like raising arms or rolling shoulders forward and backward
- Strengthening exercises performed every other day to build muscle strength, provide stability to your joints.
- Balance exercises like standing on one foot and walking backwards.
Exercise should be done in a way that it uplifts your mood as it would ensure commitment. It is important to find the right balance. Some more exercises as mentioned below can be included:
Aerobic – It helps not only with overall fitness but also boosts up the stamina and energy. Examples of low-impact aerobic exercises include walking and cycling. Moderate intensity aerobic exercise is also effective.
Yoga – A gentle yoga practice which is easy on joints and reduces symptoms of arthritis promoting relaxation is beneficial. Some calm aasana’s like Vriksha asana, shavasana help ease joint inflammation and relax muscles. If you feel uncomfortable with any of the pose it is best to avoid it.
Water based exercises are also a good choice as they support body leading to less impact on joints. Water creates natural resistance which gives muscles a good workout without stress. A swim or a walk can be helpful till the time there is no stress on muscle.
Other Activities – Any movement, no matter how small can help. Everyday activities like walking the dog and gardening will count till the time you are consistent as per your comfort. Also, variety makes exercise fun.
Stop thinking you can’t exercise
This is one of the biggest misconceptions about arthritis where people are afraid to exercise thinking that if they do so it will pain more. Of course, one doesn’t have to strain to worsen the pain but at the same time it is important to be active. Being active not only keeps joints moving and prevents stiffness but strengthens the muscle around the joints and improves mobility too. A healthy diet which limits the food that trigger joint pain along with gentle, joint-friendly movements will respect your arthritis pain and will also not lead you to follow a sedentary lifestyle.
Adjust and Add Variety according to symptoms
There will be times when symptoms are more severe, so accordingly reduce the intensity of the exercise. Alternatively, try a different type of exercise. On days when cycling or swimming seems too much try switching to a gentle walk or some stretching.
Plan your Exercise Program
Your doctor or exercise professional can suggest you on exercises specific to you and your arthritis condition. Physical therapist can advise you on the exercise plan to give the most benefits. Before starting on any exercise regime, it is recommended to follow under expert guidance.