Research has revealed that over 37 million people in America suffer from the debilitating effects of arthritis. This disease is defined as painful inflammation of one or more joints of the body.
The wear and tear of arthritis can be frustrating for people who want to live an active lifestyle, or want to try to stay in shape. The two most common forms of arthritis are rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Most of the time, the likelihood of contracting these two forms of arthritis increases with age; however, arthritis can affect people of all ages. Sometimes, even children suffer from arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic condition that occurs when the body’s immune system accidentally attacks the cells that are located inside your joints. This often results in joint stiffness, pain, inflammation and decreased mobility.
Osteoarthritis is often caused over time from the wear and tear of the body’s joints. This type of arthritis is degenerative and usually results in joint pain, swelling and decreased mobility.
Tips for Arthritis Sufferers
If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with arthritis, there are steps you can take to help ease some of the pain that is associated with this painful condition:
Exercise for Arthritis
A regular exercise routine is important for arthritis patients, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Exercise. Exercise will help to increase muscle strength, which can take some of the pressure off the joints. An aerobic program combined with a strength training routine will help widen the following benefits:
- Increase and maintain bone strength
- Strengthen muscles around the joints
- Help control access weight
- Help provide a restful sleep
- Help improve overall sense of well-being
- Help to lubricate the joints
Types of Recommended Arthritis Exercises
The following exercises are generally advised for people who suffer from arthritis. Consult with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends cardio routines that place the least amount of stress on the joints as possible. Examples of low impact cardio exercise are:
- Water Exercise
Water-based activities such as swimming and water aerobics can get your heart rate pumping while providing less stress on your joints than many exercises. Exercise in the water has an anti-gravity effect on your joints because the water supports the weight of your body.
If swimming laps is too painful for your arthritis, you can use a flotation belt and perform deep water running movements. It doesn’t matter what activity you do in the pool, as long as you keep your heart rate up for 20 to 30 minutes. Have fun and design a program that’s challenging, but keeps you coming back for more.
Many people who suffer from arthritis find it beneficial to perform their cardio exercise on a stationary recumbent bike. This will allow you to improve your endurance, while having the desired effect of providing a low impact workout for your joints.
Modern recumbent bikes allow users to exercise in a variety of simulated environments such as: hills, interval training and other challenging preset cardio routines.
Walking can be done just about anywhere and is an effective low impact workout for arthritis patients. Research has also indicated that walking helps to maintain bone mass in participants. Remember to wear comfortable shoes and start a walking program gradually. You can increase your distance if the activity doesn’t cause pain and as your fitness level increases.
Strength training should be another component of your exercise routine. An effective resistance workout will help build the muscles that support your joints. Strength training will also help to maintain crucial bone mass. Try to perform at least two strength training workouts twice a week.
While an exercise routine may help you alleviate some of your arthritis symptoms, make sure that you don’t overdo it, and choose a program that works best for your specific condition. When exercising, try to adjust your position frequently and take breaks as needed.
Adequate rest is another important factor in an effective exercise program. Always rest at least 24 hours between strength training workouts and try to cross-train during your cardio routines.
For example, if you walk on Monday, you can swim on Tuesday and ride the bike on Wednesday. This will allow your muscles and joints sufficient time to rest between workouts.
Avoid impact exercises such as running, contact sports and exercises that cause repetitive movements such as high-impact aerobics or tennis.