Arthritis is a painful condition that causes inflammation and stiffness of the joints. Exercise has a number of health benefits for those living with arthritis, including decreased pain and fatigue, increased strength and flexibility, and improved ability to manage symptoms or prevent injury.
Low-impact exercises that build muscle without straining the joints are particularly effective for those with arthritis. Always consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise routine. New exercises should be done slowly and gradually increased with time. Below are a few low impact exercises that can produce great results.
Walking and Cycling
Walking engages almost every muscle in the body. Additionally, it can be done almost anywhere with little equipment necessary. Cycling, whether on a stationary bike or out on the road, is a great way to increase your heart rate without putting a lot of pressure on your hip and knee joints. This can improve your cardiovascular health, help you control your weight and give you more energy to get through the day. Start by walking or cycling for 10 minutes a day, three times a week. Try to increase your time by 10% each week.
Lap swimming or aqua aerobics are great low impact exercises. The water’s buoyancy supports the body’s weight, which reduces stress on the joints. Try to work your way up to 20-30 minutes of swimming three times a week.
Yoga improves flexibility and balance and is very gentle on joints. Some health clubs even offer chair yoga, where the exercises are mostly done while seated.
Strength training can help you build strong muscles that help support and protect your joints. Under the direction of a trained professional, try using weights and resistance bands to build muscle mass. Try to do strength training exercises every other day.
Stretching on a daily basis can help maintain or even improve range of motion of your arthritic joints as well as the non-affected joints. Stretching should be done gently and when muscles are warmed up. To warm up, you can use a warm shower, a short 5 minute walk or even ride on the bike. Stretches can be held for 20 to 30 seconds to encourage improved flexibility.