Exercise for arthritis help
Arthritis is a major cause of pain and disability in Australia, with more than 3.5 million people suffering from it. This inflammatory condition can cause swelling in the joints and body tissues, resulting in pain, stiffness and immobility – greatly impacting the daily activities the rest of us take for granted.
An effective way for arthritis sufferers to help manage their pain and improve joint function is to participate in regular activity – ideally for 30 minutes 4 to 5 times a week.
Benefits of exercise
Even for the fit and able, regular exercise is hugely beneficial for increased wellness and vitality. Exercise is well known to reduce stress (due to the release of endorphins or happy hormones), revitalise the body and mind through deep, aerobic breathing and improve flexibility, which can help deter a myriad nuances in later life.
When it comes to arthritis suffers, exercise can help lessen pain and lift your mood. Done on a regular basis, exercise can improve joints, build muscle strength, increase focus and endurance – helping to support the body’s pain-coping mechanism, and boost flexibility.
Best exercises for arthritis sufferers
Before doing any exercise check in with your doctor. Once you have the all clear your exercise routine should begin with a gentle warm up. If exercising in the morning, be mindful that your body will take longer to warm up and will be less flexible than if you were exercising in the evening. In general a 10-15 minute warm up is recommended. Gentle stretches are a great way to warm up the body, as is a gentle walk.
Arthritis suffers will benefit greatly from exercises that help improve muscle strength and flexibility. Pilates does this by focusing on balance, muscle strengthening and lengthening through working with body weight and flowing poses. You can also use free weights or weight machines, making sure the weights are light enough for you to perform the movements without straining too much, which can lead to pain or fatigue.
Physical activity that increases the heart rate lowers blood pressure, boosts circulation and improves heart health and overall fitness levels. Low-impact exercise such as water aerobics, walking, cycling and circuit training are best as these put less pressure on the joints.
Start off slowly and build up. Don’t be tempted to overdo it; this will only slow you down in the future, as injury and pain are more likely. Make sure you have supportive footwear that lessens the impact on joints such as ankles, knees and hips.
Keep on moving
It’s easy to find an excuse not to exercise and if you happen to be in pain that probably seems like the number 1 reason to sit back down on the couch. Exercise is a mindset. It should definitely be enjoyed but it shouldn’t always be a question – “Shall I go for a walk today?” “Do I feel up to exercising?” Don’t stop to think, just do (providing you’ve cleared it with your doctor). This way you’re less likely to talk yourself out of it.
To help maintain motivation consider the following tips:
- Find an exercise type that you enjoy as you’re more likely to stick with it.
- Motivate yourself by setting achievable goals.
- Make your exercise social. Group exercise is a great way to get out and meet people and offers additional encouragement.
- Don’t give up altogether if you miss a training or exercise session. Remember some exercise is better than none.
- Meet regularly with a healthcare professional to track your progress, tweak your regime if need be and highlight your improvement.