The pain and stiffness that often accompanies arthritis can sometimes make it difficult for sufferers to enjoy their favorite sports and physical activities. Sometimes, even everyday activities like walking up and down stairs or getting in and out of the car can produce pain and discomfort, depending on where the arthritis is located and on the severity of the condition. Although arthritis is a serious condition, a diagnosis of arthritis is by no means a prescription or sentence for a sedentary lifestyle. There are many myths and questions about the causes of and limitations that result from arthritis, but specialists like Beverly Hills rheumatologist Dr. Susan Baker encourage patients to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle that includes appropriate physical activities.
First Things First – Why Exercise With Arthritis?
Contrary to popular belief, moderate exercise and consistent physical activity in general is actually beneficial for arthritis sufferers for several reasons.
Maintaining a healthy weight – Losing weight can help sufferers of arthritis mitigate the pain and discomfort associated with the condition, especially in cases where the arthritis affects the knee. The less weight a person carries, the less pressure and strain the knee will have to absorb.
Losing as little as ten pounds can make enough of a difference to decrease pain in the knee joint by as much as 50%. The important thing for patients to remember is that it doesn’t require running a marathon or hours at the gym every day. Starting out slowly with low impact activities like walking or cycling, combined with stretching for 30 minutes a few times a week, can have a significant positive impact.
Muscle strength and conditioning – It’s simple. Strengthening the muscles that support the joints helps to ensure that the joint is working properly and is not absorbing unnecessary strain or tension, as in the case of weaker or atrophied muscles. Consult with a physician before beginning any exercise program to ensure the activity is right for you.
Five Best Exercises For Arthritis
- Walking – Walking is an excellent activity for the well-being for people of all ages and fitness levels. Arthritis sufferers in particular will find that the low impact nature and ease of beginning a walking program is readily accessible. As a weight bearing exercise, walking helps with bone density and is good for the lungs and heart. It’s also a great choice for stress and anxiety relief, and, aside from a supportive pair of shoes, does not require much of a financial investment
- Yoga – Yoga is perfect alleviating tension and stiffness in the muscles and joints. As with any exercise program, arthritis sufferers should consult with a physician to ensure that the poses are safe and will not aggravate joint pain.
- Aqua Aerobics – Working out in the water offers the ultimate in low impact activity. Warmer water can help increase circulation, and water increases resistance, helping to further strengthen muscles and cushion impact on the joints.
- Cycling – Whether indoor or outdoor, cycling can be a great low-impact way to strengthen the heart and hip and knee joints. Find a pace and surface that feels comfortable and pay attention to how it feels.
- Running – For runners, arthritis does not have to mean an end to a favorite activity. With proper stretching, strength training, footwear, and a softer running surface (such as a high school track), arthritis sufferers can enjoy the physical benefits of running.
Contact a Beverly Hills Rheumatologist Today
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