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  • Carol Michaels

Exercising With Arthritis

If you have arthritis, being active is an important way to decrease pain and stiffness. Being active will help you to feel better, move better and sleep better. If you avoid physical activity, you may get weaker and stiffer and your joint pain may increase. Consistent exercise has been shown to reduce pain, improve the ability to do daily activities and lower the risk of other health problems. If you have been inactive for a long time, check with your doctor before starting an exercise program. An exercise specialist can teach you exercises to strengthen and support your joints and manage pain. Strength training is an important component of an arthritis exercise program. Strength training builds and strengthens muscle and will improve your ability to perform your activities of daily living. It will make your recreational activities more enjoyable. Strength train 2 to 3 times per week, performing 10 repetitions of each exercise for every muscle group. Start with a very light weight or use water bottles as shown above. Work up to performing 2 sets. If you have pain decrease the weight and the repetitions. Strength train when you have less pain and progress slowly. Another important component of an arthritis exercise program is aerobic exercise, which is any activity that increases your heart rate and breathing. This should be performed daily. Build up to doing at least 150 minutes/week of moderate-intensity activity. Begin with low impact aerobic exercises such as walking, cycling, and rowing. Biking is a good exercise for arthritic knees. When walking have good shoes and try using walking poles. Water exercise is a great way to be physically active for those with arthritis since it is gentle on the joints.

Perform stretching on a daily basis. Arthritis can decrease your flexibility and range of motion. Stretching can prevent your joints from getting stiff and painful.

Tips: Schedule exercise into your day. Find an exercise buddy. Those who are active with a buddy tend to be more consistent. A few short sessions may be easier on your joints than one long session. Be active according to pain level. Vary the exercises so as not to cause repetitive stress to a joint. Warm up and cool down at an easy pace for 5 to 10 minutes. Try to keep your weight down to reduce the stress on the knees and hips..