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Winning Workouts For Everyone Who Has Arthritis

Jane swimming-4 (2)

Anyone who has put up with the pain and discomfort of arthritis will be anxious to improve their symptoms and one of the best ways is through exercise. Arthritis often goes hand in hand with being overweight but exercise along with a wholesome diet can make you healthier and even lighter. Remember that every pound that you carry (around the abdomen) puts an extra 10 pounds of pressure on those vulnerable joints. Exercise also makes you feel good.

Why is exercise so good for arthritis?

The advantage of exercise is that it can reduce joint pain and stiffness while increasing flexibility, muscle strength, cardiac fitness and endurance.

It is as well to get professional advice when starting an exercise program but there are 3 types of exercise that are best for those with arthritis and these are:

  • Range-of-motion exercise to help maintain normal joint movement, while relieving stiffness. Dancing is a good example. Such exercise can be carried out daily but should be done at least every other day.

  • Strengthening exercise to help keep or increase muscle strength because strong muscles help support and protect those joints affected by arthritis. Weight training is a good example. Such strengthening exercises should be done every other day unless you have severe pain or swelling in your joints.

  • Aerobic or endurance exercise to improve cardiovascular fitness while controlling weight and improving overall function. Walking and especially swimming are good examples and should be carried out for 20 to 30 minutes 3 x a week unless you have severe pain or swelling in your joints. The exercises can be performed in increments of 10 minutes over the course of a day if this is found to be easier.

Many people with arthritis begin with easy, range-of-motion exercises and low-impact aerobics as set out by a professional trainer or physical therapist who will design a suitable home exercise program. Remember that if exercise causes pain that lasts for more than 1 hour, it is too strenuous and the program will need adjustment.

Strength training is important too

Add strength training to your daily exercise program and you can decrease pain, increase muscle strength and general physical performance, while improving the clinical signs and symptoms of arthritis. Studies have found that the effectiveness of strength training to ease the pain of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis is just as potent, if not more so, as medication. Weight training can start with the use of weight machines before progressing to dumbbells. Resistance bands can be used at home for maintenance training. Strong muscles act as shock absorbers for the joints. If muscles are able to take pressure off of the joints during activities such as walking, there is less joint-related pressure and pain.

While walking is always a beneficial form of endurance exercise, if you can include swimming this is especially helpful because when you are submerged in water, your body automatically becomes lighter so that being in water is the ideal place to exercise those stiff muscles and sore joints – particularly if you suffer from arthritis and are overweight.

Extra benefits of swimming with arthritis

  • While in hot weather, an outdoor pool can become pleasantly warm, a heated all weather indoor pool is ideal for the arthritis sufferer as the warmer the water, the more the joints can loosen up.

  • It has been found that those with arthritis receive greater health benefits from participating in hydrotherapy, swimming or just gently exercising in water than any other activities.

  • Water-based exercise improves the use of those affected joints and decreases pain whichever type of arthritis because swimming puts the body through a broad range of motion that helps joints and ligaments stay loose and flexible.

  • Swimming means that the arms move in wide arcs, the hips are engaged as the legs scissor through the water, and the head and spine twist from side to side.

  • In addition, with every stroke, as you reach forward, you lengthen the body making it more efficient in the water but also giving you an excellent stretch from head to toe.

  • Extra flexibility can be gained by holding on to the side of the pool and gently stretching with the support of the water helping you maintain your balance for longer periods of time.

  • Even if swimming laps is not possible, there are plenty of other good swimming exercises. Try walking or running in water, which many people find easier to do than on land.

  • In addition, swimming is a relaxing and peaceful form of exercise, helping to alleviate stress. You can let your mind wander, focusing on nothing but the rhythm of your stroke, helping you gain a feeling of well-being. Swimming is so relaxing because it allows more oxygen to flow to your muscles and forces you to regulate your breathing. A pleasant side effect is the release of feel-good chemicals known as endorphins.

  • Swimming is now recognized as one of the biggest calorie burners around, and it's great for keeping weight under control which is so important when arthritis affects you.

Rebounding or trampolining

Often overlooked as a way of exercising with arthritis is the use of a rebounder or mini-trampoline. This low impact exercise for arthritis is really good for arthritic aching joints. Endorsed by the medical community, rebounding can be easily done at home. Look at having a mini trampoline in your home along with a rocking chair. A study by the Medical College of Virginia found that rocking one hour every day helped patients suffering from arthritis because the movement lulled the body into a natural rhythm that is believed to speed healing. Operating the rocking chair also increased muscle tone and flexibility around the knees.

There are so many exercise options for anyone suffering from arthritis that there is every reason to start as soon as possible.


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