The pain and discomfort of arthritis can turn off even the most determined person from exercise. However, if you know the benefits of exercising with arthritis, you may be more willing to give it a try. But a word of caution: Don’t overdo, and if possible, perform exercises under the supervision of a health professional such as a physiotherapist. In the long run, exercise can prove to be a natural pain management tool, with the benefits far outweighing the discomfort.
Exercises for arthritis centre around gentle stretching movements, such as are done in Yoga, tai chi and Pilates. These exercises lubricate the cartilage, increase synovial fluid (within the joints), and relieve swelling and stiffness. The result of all this is that pain decreases and range of motion increases. As your discomfort lessens, you may want to add walking and low impact aerobics. These will all help to get rid of pain and strengthen the joints.
Aquatic exercises can be done in your own pool, at the gym or at some physiotherapy clinics. These exercises are wonderful for arthritis sufferers as the water cushions the impact of the movements and makes it easier to perform them. An added bonus is that the water, if warm, acts as a pain reliever. Swimming and weight-training can also be done in water.
As your condition improves, you can add cycling, weight training, dancing or golf. With weight training, however, be sure to consult your therapist before you start, as using weight that is too heavy may put too much stress on the joint. The goal is to get enjoyment from the exercise. This will make you look forward to the sessions and make you want to do more.
Exercise also helps you lose weight, sleep better, relieve depression, which may accompany arthritis, and give you an overall feeling of well being. All of this can have a psychological effect on your arthritis, and help to lessen the symptoms faster. As always, remember to consult a professional before starting any form of exercise.