Exercise is good for us: it keeps us supple, flexible and reduces the risk of illness. But it also has benefits for people living with arthritis. Here’s a guide put together by Keele University and Arthritis Research UK on exercising with arthritis.
Many people with osteoarthritis are worried about exercising because they believe it could cause further damage to their joints. However, our joints are designed to move and inactivity can be harmful to the tissues in and around the joint, so keeping active can actual help.
How do I get started exercising with arthritis?
It’s never too late to start exercising with arthritis. If you think it would help you to get started, why not try joining a local exercise group or involve your friends and family.
Two important things to remember are to:
1) set realistic, achievable goals.
2) do exercise that you enjoy.
Doing this will help you to continue to be motivated to exercise.
The key to maximising the benefits of exercise is to do it regularly. Most people take a while to learn how much they can and can’t do. Just remember to build up slowly and pace yourself.
If you feel that you may have overdone it, rest for that day and start again the next, but reduce the amount you were doing. Then gradually increase it again each day until you understand how much you can do.
You shouldn’t feel completely exhausted or in a lot more discomfort after exercising, although you should feel as if your muscles have done some work and have been stretched a little.
There are many benefits of exercising with arthritis including:
- Easing stiffness and improves flexibility
- Helping prevent loss of muscle strength
- Releasing ‘feel good’ endorphins, which can act as natural painkillers
- Helping to manage body weight and reduce the strain on our joints
What should you wear
People can be unsure what to wear while exercising. Loose-fitting clothing that does not restrict movement that allows you to comfortably do the exercise is best.
What you wear on your feet is particularly important. Footwear needs to be well fitting, so your foot is held in place and does not slide around. A wider fit is better so your toes do not get squashed and soft, well-cushioned insoles may also provide some shock absorbency and protection for your joints.
What sort of exercise is important?
Exercise need not involve equipment and often the simplest exercises are the best.
General physical activity, such as walking, and specific muscle strengthening and stretching exercises are often recommended for people with osteoarthritis.
How Much Physical Activity to do
People living with osteoarthritis should do some general physical activity that makes them out of breath. For example, walking is a really good way to achieve health benefits. You need to start gently and set goals to gradually increase the amount you do.
It’s recommended that we should all aim to build up to 30 minutes of physical activity that makes us a bit short of breath five times a week. If you don’t have time for a 30-minute session, break it up into three or four 10-minute bouts throughout the day and build it into your normal daily routine.
Strengthening and Stretching Exercises for Arthritis
Strengthening and stretching exercises are important for people living with arthritis as they keep your muscles strong so that they can help to support the joint and also keep your joints mobile. Not sure where to start, here are four exercises to try for joint pain.