Many people with arthritis feel that the disease and the pain it causes keep them from being active, but regular physical activity is actually crucial to arthritis management. Exercise can help you lose or maintain weight, strengthen muscles surrounding affected joints, decrease bone loss, and reduce joint pain, stiffness, and swelling — all of which are important for those with arthritis. If you suffer from the disease and are looking for a way to alleviate symptoms and stay active, the following exercises for reducing arthritis pain are a great place to start.
Walking is an excellent low-impact way to lose weight or maintain your weight, which is key to reducing the stress put on joints and relieving arthritis pain. It can also improve heart health — an important benefit for those with arthritis, as it increases the risk for heart disease. The Arthritis Foundation recommends walking for 30 to 60 minutes every day.
Water aerobics are quickly becoming a popular activity among those with arthritis, with many different water activities to choose from. Water’s buoyancy cradles your body, lessening the impact on your joints; and its resistance provides a good workout for your muscles without any extra weights. Exercising in a heated pool will also soothe your sore joints.
Cycling is great for arthritic knees because it allows the knee joint to move through its full range of motion. This low-impact repetitive motion produces synovial fluid, which washes away waste products and lubricates the joint, making it easier to move throughout the remainder of the day. This can be effective whether you’re cycling intensely or just going for a leisurely bike ride.
Yoga and Tai Chi
Arthritis often causes reduced balance, coordination, and position awareness, thus increasing your risk of falling. Both yoga and tai chi can help counteract this, as they improve balance, coordination, and proprioception. The range-of-motion and flexibility exercises included in yoga and tai chi also promote joint function and joint flexibility.
Dancing can improve joint range of motion, decrease joint pain, and help you lose weight and strengthen muscles, both of which are important for managing arthritis. A 2014 study found that two 45-minute dance therapy classes a week were effective at reducing knee and hip pain and increasing walking speeds for older adults. Try to find a type of dance that you enjoy, with an emphasis on slow and fluid motions that won’t put too much stress on your joints.
Strength training helps develop stronger muscles, which protect and support joints impacted by arthritis. The stronger your muscles are, the less stress is put on your joints. A study from Tufts University found that a strength training program increased muscle strength, improved physical performance, decreased disability, reduced pain by 43 percent, and improved signs and symptoms of the disease for older adults with arthritis.
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