Exercise for Arthritis
Patients Must Exercise for Arthritis, Even If it Hurts
It is human nature to avoid doing things that aggravate pain. Patients with arthritis many times avoid doing exercise when back, hips, knees or ankles are hurting. Although this may seem to make sense, it may actually be causing your arthritis symptoms more harm than good.
Exercise with even moderate walking can actually ease arthritis pain and improve symptoms. A national survey conducted by the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that more than half of people with arthritis didn’t walk at all for exercise. Only 25 % of arthritis patients actually meet the recommendation for activity, walking at least 150 minutes per week.
Although walking is a good exercise for people with osteoarthritis, it isn’t the only one. Exercise programs aimed to help patients with arthritis should include increasing the range of motion of the affected joint, strengthening of muscles, building endurance and improving balance. Swimming and bicycling may be best tolerated with arthritis of the hips and knees. Even walking in the pool is great exercise, to increase the range of motion, but does not put as much stress on the joints. Try looking up the Walk with Ease program, developed by the Arthritis foundation, or a local aquatics therapy program.
The fatigue, pain and stiffness caused by many types of arthritis often present difficulties to beginning that exercise regimen, but these are all symptoms that can and will improve with a regular exercise routine. Start out slow. Take a five minute stroll, swim or exercise bike. Do it every day, and gradually increase the time spent exercising and gradually increase the intensity. If you have heart disease, speak with your doctor before beginning your exercise program. Before you know it, you will begin to reap the rewards of your regular exercise program.
- Ezzat AM, MacPherson K, Leese J, Li LC. The effects of interventions to increase exercise adherence in people with arthritis: a systematic review. Musculoskeletal Care. 2015 Mar;13(1):1-18. PubMed PMID: 25752931