Arthritis is a painful disorder that involves inflammation of the joints. There are several types of this disorder and osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the most common ones.
With pain, stiffness, swelling and eventually deformation of the affected joints, it is hard for arthritis sufferers to even think about exercising. However, arthritis exercises can be very beneficial as they increase the joint mobility, improve muscle tone, strengthen the bones and relieve the symptoms of this disorder. In addition, exercise greatly improves overall health in everyone, not just in people who suffer from arthritis.
Safe exercise for arthritis
Many arthritis sufferers wonder if exercise is safe for them and they often fear that it can actually worsen their condition. The answer is, yes, some exercises are not only safe but very beneficial for people with arthritis. On the other hand, there are exercises that are harmful and should be avoided.
Stretching, strengthening and conditioning are three basic types of exercise that is safe for people with arthritis. Stretching involves the simplest and safest exercises. It improves flexibility and mobility of the joints and should be included in any daily exercise routine.
Strength exercise means working the muscle against resistance, which can be done with or without weights. The purpose of resistance exercise is to make the muscles stronger and to increase the number of activities that a person with arthritis can do without causing pain.
Conditioning or aerobic exercise improves cardiovascular health and fitness, protects the heart, improves blood circulation and oxygen supply and even improves the mood. People with arthritis should focus on low-impact conditioning exercise such as swimming, walking, riding a bicycle or exercising on an elliptical machine.
Exercises to avoid
There are exercises that can actually aggravate arthritis by putting too much strain and stress on the affected joints and therefore should be avoided. Those are mainly the so-called high-impact exercises and activities such as jogging, especially on hard surfaces like pavement, and heavy weight lifting, whether as a part of everyday choirs and activities or in a gym.
It is very important to consult a doctor and a physical therapist before starting any kind of exercise program. Ideally, people with arthritis should first spend some time in physical therapy, learning proper exercises, and then repeating them on their own.
There are also community centers, medical facilities and rehabilitation centers that offer exercise programs designed especially for people with arthritis. In United States, some of them are offered through Arthritis Foundation.