by Keila Chaliotis, Staff Writer
Have you searched and haven’t been able to find the best way to deal with the types of pains that arthritis causes your every joint to feel? Well, let’s take a look into the subject and figure out what can be done to solve this issue.
Many people used to believe that exercise and arthritis were as mixable as oil and water. Yet research states that the opposite is true. Exercising can actually decrease joint pain and stiffness, plus improve flexibility, mobility, mood and overall wellness for those who have to put up with arthritis. Yes, it can be intimidating for those with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia or lupus to begin exercising, but when coupled with weight loss, it may be one of the best means for managing the disease. Especially since people with arthritis tend to be more overweight than not.
Muscles around a joint are kept strong through exercise so that the mechanics work. In the lower parts of the body, for about 27 million people who suffer from osteoarthritis, the knee is usually the first joint to experience pain. If a person loses about 10 pounds and keeps exercising, they can cut the pain in their knees by about 50 percent and can even postpone a joint replacement.
How can you begin working out? Before starting any exercise program, think smart, and make sure it is alright with your physician. Look for types of exercises that are both low-impact such as, biking, swimming and walking to help build strength and combine it with stretching, which improves joint function. A good 30 minutes of moderate physical exercise five times a week for joint health is recommended by the government. This can be done in 10 minute increments, or you can do the recommended 10,000 steps daily.
However you may choose, read on to learn more about low-impact workouts that you can add to your daily routine.
Aquatic Exercise: Water is a perfect medium for low-impact exercise. This is especially true when the water is warm, ranging between 83 and 88 degrees Fahrenheit which in Celsius degrees is, 28.3 to 31.1 degrees. Dipping your body in warm water increases your body’s temperature, which also increases circulation. One of the reasons water provides an ideal place to exercise is its buoyancy. It takes away much of the weight off your joints and muscles. Water also provides resistance for your extremities, helping build strength. Some water exercise options can be, swimming laps, walking in place within deep water or water aerobics classes. Hot tubs can also be therapeutic ways to massage aggravated muscles and relax after a workout.
Walking: The most accessible form of exercise for those with arthritis is, walking. All you have to do is open and cross the front door of your house to take the first step. Classified as a weight-bearing exercise, walking helps reinforce bone density by placing your full bodyweight on top of your bones and joints. It also strengthens your heart, lungs and overall endurance. One way to get started is to follow the many arthritis foundation programs which can help you develop a walking routine that matches your ability, provides motivating tools to inspire you along the way and teaches safe exercise techniques that are easy to follow. If your interest is not in joining a program, then you can simply find a friend who likes to walk and set a daily routine. Start at a pace that will make you short of breath, but still able to talk. After a week or two, increase the distance and pace. Please do remember that buying a pair of sneakers made for the cause is important.
Strength and Resistance Training: No matter how old or young you are, the gym can be a fun and inspiring place to exercise. There you will find all the equipment required for strength and resistance training. This type of physical activity uses weight machines, free weights and resistance bands to strengthen muscles, bones, lungs and the heart. Resistance training has the ability to improve muscle strength, physical functioning and pain in 50 to 75 percent of people suffering from osteoarthritis in the knees.
There are two types of strengthening exercises: isometric and isotonic. The isometric exercise involves contracting the muscle without moving the joint, and it is particularly helpful if a certain joint lacks the ability to move. The isotonic exercise fortifies the muscle by moving the joint.
Tai chi: Tai Chi is a Chinese system of exercises that dates back thousands of years. It is practiced through a series of slow moving poses originally designed for self defense, mental calmness, and lucidity through its pleasant circular movements and breathing techniques. Though the effects of tai chi lack much scientific study, it is believed to increase flexibility, strengthen muscles, develop balance and improve range of motion. Other reasons do exist for why people with arthritis should practice tai chi such as, low impact, a low risk of injury, and can the best thing of it all is that it could be done indoors or outdoors, depending on your mood. It can also be practiced alone or in groups.
Yoga: This is also an ancient form of exercise. Yoga means to unite or yoke due to its ability during practice to unite movement and breath. It can also help ease stiffness and tension in muscles and joints.
Keep in mind that certain yoga poses can be shocking to the joints. For example, if your shoulders cause you pain, it would be best to avoid chaturanga dandasana (the four-limbed staff pose). It would be best to find an instructor that understands and can work around your special needs so that you may not further aggravate and inflame your arthritis.
Stationary or Outdoor Cycling: If you have been diagnosed with arthritis, then you need to get started. Maintaining active will help you get rid of a high percentage of pain and stiffness.
Now, biking is a great way to feel the wind caress your face and at the same time get in a low-impact aerobic exercise that improves the strength of your heart, hips and knees. Worried about the cold winter months? No need to! Cycling can be done indoors in the winter months on a stationary bike, or outdoors when the air is warm and pleasant. But, if cycling is new to you, start with short time slots of at least 10 minutes. Then, as your stamina improves, extend the time.
Jogging: Just because you have been diagnosed with arthritis it does not mean running should be off your list of exercise activities for good. But, first you will need a good pair of sneakers. Next, you will look for a place to jog where the surface is flat and relatively soft. If you have a local high school near by, I recommend you use their track during off hours. Not only will the surface give a little when you run, it also won’t have the cracks, holes or trash that sidewalks or roads tend to have, which in turn would cause you much more pain then relief at the end of your run. Don’t forget to do some stretching warm ups before taking off in order to prevent injury.
If you are looking to increase your activity level, but don’t know how to, you should think about hiring a personal trainer. When it comes to exercise, if your inspiration has gone away, it may be best to turn to a trained professional to help restore your motivation. A personal trainer or physical therapist will help ensure that your exercise routine involves strength and endurance, flexibility and range of motion. These three facets of exercise are vital for helping ease and improve the symptoms of arthritis. Try to find someone that will be considerate when he/she designs your exercise program. People with arthritis are frequently less active and their range of motion is limited by swelling, pain and stiffness and repetitive movements can become painful after time. Extra support and encouragement goes a long way so, seek well for that right instructor.
Are you ready to get started? Go ahead! It is time you stop listening to those who say an ill person should not exercise. Let’s prove them wrong.
Remember, your body’s health and fitness is in your hands!