The Importance Of Exercising With Arthritis

Although it may be the last thing you want to do when you’re suffering from pain, exercising with arthritis has proven to be very beneficial. It seems only logical to stop moving the part of your body that is aching, but following that instinct may be more negative than positive. Arthritis, also called osteoarthritis, is a disease which attacks the joints and causes the cartilage on bones to wear out. Popularly thought of as exclusive to senior citizens, arthritis can affect people of any age group.

Generally, people above age 45 are at a higher risk of developing arthritis, but there are other lifestyle factors that can contribute as well. For example, gout, a type of arthritis, is caused almost exclusively by diet. For other forms of arthritis, being overweight quadruples the risk of developing the disease due to the increased wear and tear you’re placing on your joints. In addition, women often experience arthritis at a younger age than men.

Arthritis can manifest in any part of the body, but is most common in the back, neck, knees, fingers, and hands. Inflammation control is key to preventing continued pain, and while it is true people should avoid activities that upset their afflicted joints, moderate exercise has been proven to reduce pain and swelling.

Exercise, Aerobics, Stretching And Walking

Exercise should always be a gradual process and you should consult with your doctor to make a specific plan that fits your needs. An exercise plan should aim to increase the damaged joint’s range of motion, strengthen the surrounding muscles, build overall endurance, and improve your balance. Since arthritis usually presents itself in older people, strength training is crucial. The last thing you want to happen, on top of arthritis, is a fall to occur due to reduced strength in your body. Building muscles in your thighs can help stabilize your legs and actually reduce discomfort in damaged knee joints. Building upper leg muscles increases function of the leg and places less stress on the already pained knee joints.

Beyond strength training, aerobic exercise helps as well. Aerobic exercise not only encourages weight loss, but also promotes muscle stability, oxygen intake, and balance. Since running is usually not a good option due to existing pain – swimming, using a stationary bicycle, or other non-impact workout machine can be good choices. Don’t be discouraged by thinking aerobic exercise means an overly intense workout. It could mean moderate activity for five minutes; you don’t have to go crazy with it. The important thing is to get started because your endurance will increase the more often you work out.

If jumping into aerobic exercise sounds daunting, why not try stretching and flexibility exercises? Since joints impaired by arthritis don’t move with the same ease they used to, stretching can improve the joint’s range of motion. Light yoga, tai chi, or even stretching on your own are all beneficial activities. If stretching sounds too hard right now, try walking to jump-start your exercise program. Walking is extremely important and tends to be overlooked as a form of exercise.

CDC Survey

Alarmingly, a nation-wide survey conducted by the CDC found that 53 percent of people with arthritis do not walk at all and 66 percent walked for no more than 90 minutes per week. The recommendation for walking is 150 minutes/week and only 23 percent of those surveyed met that number. This is not only detrimental for the joints affected, but can cause weight gain, increased risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, and a slew of other problems.

Stopping movement completely as a result of pain is not a smart idea. The less you move, the weaker your body gets and the harder it becomes to exercise later. Remember, whatever you do, start slowly and build up your strength and endurance. Within no time, you’ll notice a marked difference in the way your joints and overall body feel.

About The Author:

Max Gottlieb is the content manager of Senior Planning in Phoenix, Arizona. Senior Planning gives free assistance to seniors and their families, helping them decide which benefits they’re eligible for and which type of senior care is most appropriate for them.

Managing Arthritic Pain In Older Individuals

It is no surprise that as we get older, our bodies morph and change in ways we haven’t previously experienced. This is no more truer than in the instance of physical health conditions. These tend to compound and get worse as time goes on. This is certainly the case in one particular study that identified certain specifics regarding arthritis in older sufferers. The pain and inflammation that comes with arthritis can be very cumbersome and difficult to deal with – especially in cases where lack of mobility and function can impede necessary tasks. A recent study has found that even the most basic physical activity can help to keep the body functional.

Arthritis Study

The aging population feels and deals with more aches and pains than its younger counterparts. This is normally due to aging bodies being more susceptible to issues that may arise. One very common health issue is that of arthritis that typically affects joints like the knees, hips and hands. This condition can be incredibly painful and can make even the most mundane tasks very challenging. A study conducted at Northwestern University showed that even a simple 45-minute session of physical activity can improve the function of lower arthritic limbs by up to 80 percent.

“An object at rest, stays at rest. An object in motion, stays in motion.” This is a very popular saying that gives much credence to this study’s findings. It stands to reason that a body which exhibits a certain level of movement would more easily access similar movements and functions overall. One simple 45-minute session of physical activity is actually one-third of the recommended amount of weekly activity. Yet, this study has shown that it does wonders for those struggling with this sometimes debilitating condition.

Incorporating Physical Activity

The prospect of trying to get consistent exercise in as you get older can seem incredibly daunting, especially when you are dealing with a specific amount of pain and discomfort. The older participants that took part in this study found that adding just one simple, low-intensity physical activity to their weekly regimen improved their mobility in a noticeable manner. One-third of the participants found lasting positive change in their arthritic pain after two years of incorporating minimal physical activity into their weekly regimens. Something like brisk walking can help to sustain a certain level of high function within the joints that often have trouble functioning correctly.

A professor of rheumatology was asked about these findings and stated that “even a little activity is better than none.” There is often a misconception regarding needing to be physically active numerous times a week. This isn’t necessarily needed. There can be great and positive strides taken by minimal effort and time spent. But the main contributing factor and takeaway that should be noted is that being active, even if only a short segmented period of time, will provide more benefits than you may think. Another really good point that the study made was that it’s much more plausible and attainable to have a small goal of being active for a 45-minute period of time – especially considering it’s a more tangible, doable goal in the face of certain discomfort.

Bump the consistency up to two times a week and even cardiovascular health is improved.