If you suffer from arthritis, you might think exercise will aggravate your joint pain and stiffness. This isn’t the case at all. Exercise can, in fact, work to relieve stress and reduce stiffness and pain.
Exercise can help:
- Strengthen the muscles around your joints to reduce pain
- Increase your range of motion
- Help combat fatigue and give you more energy to get through the day
- Make it easier to get a good night’s sleep
- Help you control your weight
- Help you maintain bone strength
- Enhance your quality of life
- Improve your balance
What kind of exercise is best for those with arthritis?
There are four main types of exercise that can help to reduce arthritis-related pain and disability. Bear in mind that doing a variety of exercises and mixing up your daily routine will help you to avoid overworking one set of muscles or particular joints.
Both range-of-motion (ROM) and stretching exercises will help to maintain or improve the flexibility in affected joints and surrounding muscles. They’ll help improve your posture and decrease your risk of injuries, reducing joint stiffness, thinning fluid and getting your joints moving.
Long-term studies have shown that people with inflammatory arthritis can benefit from moderate intensity strengthening exercises. These exercises work to strengthen the muscle, so it provides greater joint support and helps reduce loading and stress through the painful joint. Strong muscles will also help to reduce the bone loss associated with some forms of inflammatory arthritis and the use of certain medications.
Aerobic exercise strengthens your heart and lungs, increasing your endurance and helping you control your weight, mood, sleep and overall health.
Safe forms of aerobic exercise include walking, aerobic dance, aquatic exercise, bicycling or exercising on equipment such as stationary bikes, treadmills or elliptical trainers. Try to avoid activities that jar your joints activities such as jogging.
Swimming or pool-based exercise is also great for those with arthritis as the buoyancy of the water places less stress on the weight-bearing joints.
Body awareness exercises
Body awareness exercises such as those done in a yoga or Pilates class will help to improve posture, balance, coordination, joint position sense and relaxation.
When is the best time to exercise?
Finding the right time of day to exercise will help you set a routine that works for you, where you’ll get the greatest benefits. For example, if you get a lot of morning stiffness, gentle stretching may be helpful, while battling it through a fitness class will cause more harm than good.
If you struggle with fatigue or pain, try to break your exercises into small manageable chunks throughout the day. Breaking up the exercise program into several short intervals during the day may be more manageable.
As you’ll know, symptoms can vary daily, and you may experience sudden flares or periods of feeling better. Stay conscious of any changes to your arthritis symptoms and make sure you’re resting more and exercising less vigorously when you’re struggling.
If you need any help in establishing an exercise routine that is safe and comfortable for you, one of our incredible personal trainers is on-hand to provide expert guidance. Contact your local David Lloyd Club to find out more.