A diagnosis of arthritis will often fill you with a feeling of dread, worrying about a future filled with pain and stiffness and if you have failed to look after your joints,
you may be even more concerned because ageing, being overweight, injuries, bad posture, lack of sleep and of course general wear and tear can all take their toll. There is one bit of good news though and that is that exercise can be so beneficial for arthritis
even though many will find this hard to believe.
Why is exercise so good for arthritis?
The advantage of exercise is that it can reduce joint pain and stiffness while at the same time increasing flexibility, muscle strength, cardiac fitness and endurance.
One of the best ways of exercising with arthritis is yoga
This is because yoga is associated with a wide range of physical and psychological benefits that can be especially helpful for anyone living with a chronic illness such as arthritis.
And there are many reasons for this
- Beginner yoga classes provide simple, gentle movements that gradually build strength, balance, and flexibility – all elements that may be especially beneficial for people with arthritis.
- As you progress, yoga goes on to increase muscle strength, improve flexibility, enhance respiratory endurance and promote balance.
- Yoga has also been shown to boost energy, build positive feelings, and ease anxiety. Yoga is mind boosting and energy increasing, leading to fewer bodily aches and pains.
- Yoga really helps with the increased stress that goes hand-in-hand with living with a chronic disease.
- Yoga leads to lots of increased mental energy as well as positive feelings (you become more alert and enthusiastic), fewer negative feelings (less aggression and anxiety) and somatic complaints.
A popular misconception is that yoga focuses merely on increasing flexibility
But this is not so. The practice of Hatha Yoga also emphasizes postural alignment, strength, endurance and balance. "Associations" who care about and counsel those with arthritis are the first to promote physical activity (and of course yoga is included) as an essential part of the effective treatment of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, pointing out that for people with arthritis, exercise is safe and does not exacerbate pain or worsen disease but actually promotes joint health.
Those who do not exercise often suffer more joint discomfort than those who do
If you suffer from arthritis and you live a sedentary lifestyle, it can lead to increased pain, more inactivity and further disability. Plus the psychological benefits of exercise such as less stress, fewer symptoms of depression, improved coping and well-being and enhanced immune functioning all contribute to greater overall health.
How to get started on the yoga habit?
Look for a beginner class led by a qualified teacher - who can gently and safely guide you into the ways of yoga - by checking online or your phone book. Yoga has become so popular that you will find instructors, classes and studios everywhere including local health clubs, community centers and seniors centers in your area. When attending your first class, be sure to arrive a few minutes early and take time to introduce yourself to the instructor so that he or she is aware of your condition.
What to expect when you go to a yoga class
There are three main components to most western yoga classes:
- Poses (asanas)
- Breathing techniques (pranyama) and
Some classes may even include additional elements such as meditation or chanting. In the beginning, you can expect simple standing and seated poses - helping you to increase your awareness of the body and its relationship to space in a safe and gradual manner. If you have a problem with a certain area of your body because of the arthritis, with the help of your instructor you can make adjustments to protect that same area. Yoga is non competitive so you work at your own ability and speed, remembering the rule “if it hurts, stop!”
Sources: http://www.hopkinsarthritis.org/patient-corner/disease-management/yoga-for-arthritis/ http://www.webmd.com/rheumatoid-arthritis/features/yoga-good-rheumatoid-arthritis