Nearly 54.5 million Americans suffer from some sort of arthritis which, as it progresses, can make everyday tasks challenging. While it may seem contradictory, moving can help alleviate the discomfort of the condition. While it's hard to stick to an exercise program during the best of times, when you are riddled with arthritis pain, working out may be the last thing you want to do. But experts say that it is crucial to maintain joint function, and exercise keeps you moving in the right direction.
According to Harvard Medical School, exercise can help arthritis by improving your range of motion. For example, performing squats helps joint mobility in the knee. Start slowly, squatting only as far as you are comfortable. Increase the range of motion gradually, going a little lower each time.
It can also build stronger muscles that support the joints. A good example is sitting in a chair and using only your thigh muscles to stand up. Again, proceed at your own pace.
According to the Mayo Clinic, aerobic exercise is critical for people with arthritis. Aerobic or endurance exercises can help you develop overall fitness and stamina while protecting the joints. Examples include walking, bicycling, swimming, or using an elliptical machine. Always consult your primary care doctor or rheumatologist before embarking upon an exercise program. Once you get the OK, aim for 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise weekly.
Yoga, tai chi, and other forms of body awareness exercises are vital because they also help improve balance to prevent falls, said the experts at the Mayo Clinic. These forms of exercise also promote relaxation and help ease painful joints.
Make sure any exercise or workout routine begins with a warmup. This could involve walking in place along with simple stretching. Always make time to stretch and cool down afterward, too. You can apply heat to the joints before working out using a warm towel, hot packs, or showers, and then apply ice after the activity to reduce joint swelling.
The Arthritis Foundation has excellent guidelines to help you get started in an appropriate exercise program.
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