Everyone needs exercise, but it is especially important for people with arthritis.
While exercise effectively reduces joint pain, choosing the right type of exercise is essential.
Even moderate-intensity exercise can ease pain, help control weight, and improve balance and mood.
Exercising regularly can also increase circulation, reduce inflammation, and combat fatigue. It also strengthens the muscles around the joints and maintains bone density.
THE IMPORTANCE OF RESISTANCE TRAINING
Strengthening exercises and exercises that put joints through their full range of motion are recommended for people with arthritis, but always with clearance from a doctor.
Strengthening exercises such as weight training with resistance bands, hand weights and machines can help to build strong muscles that can support and protect the joints.
Range-of-motion exercises help to lessen stiffness and put joints through a full range of motions. These exercises may include stretching arms up high or rolling shoulders forward and backwards.
Moving every day, no matter how little, can help! Movement through daily activities such as household chores, light gardening or walking the dog, can contribute to overall health. Gentle exercise such as Pilates, yoga or tai chi can improve balance and prevent falls.
Five tips to protect your joints.
- Low impact exercise helps to minimise joint stress while you move. Examples include walking, exercising in the water, tai chi, yoga, and resistance training.
- Use heat. Heat can relax joints and muscles and lessen pain before exercise. Shower or use a warm heat pack or towel for approximately 20 minutes.
- Move gently. Move joints gently at first to warm up. You might begin with range-of-motion exercises for 5 to 10 minutes before you move on to strengthening or aerobic exercises.
- Go slowly. Exercise with slow and easy movements. Pain worse than the usual joint pain may indicate something is wrong. Stop if you feel sharp pain, or slow down if you see swelling or redness in your joints.
- Ice afterward. Use ice on your joints for up to 20 minutes as needed after activity. This is even more important if your joints are swollen.
[i] Ellapen T.J,Paul Y. (2017) Exercise-induced physiological lubrication mechanisms dissipating arthritic joint pain. South African Journal for Research in Sport Physical Education and Recreation 39(2):59-67
[ii] Information from the article 'Exercise helps ease arthritis pain and stiffness'. Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/arthritis/in-depth/arthritis/art-20047971