During the busy schedule of your lives, many often face health issues. The tasks you perform today can greatly influence the aging process. The effects of frequent wear and tear on your body, specifically your joints, can potentially reveal its ugly head later in life. Most joint pain due to chronic wear and tear is called osteoarthritis, or the more common term ‘arthritis.’ There is another form of arthritis called rheumatoid arthritis, (which is an autoimmune disease), but we will not discuss it at this time.
Today we’ll talk about the most common form of arthritis osteoarthritis. Arthritis is one such disease faced by millions of people across the world. Arthritis needs a thorough diagnosis and proper treatment. It is categorized as a chronic disease as it may last for years or even a lifetime.
People used to think that arthritis requires medications for treatment, and that exercises don’t have any positive effects. Well, those old thoughts are wrong! Studies have shown that regular exercising can help treat Arthritis. Besides, it helps in relieving pain and stiffness to a great extent. This guide discusses different aspects of exercising, as well as some safety to measures to consider. So, let’s start with the benefits of exercising.
Benefits of Exercising
Daily exercising is recommended for everyone, either suffering from some health issue or not. And we now know that for Arthritis, exercising can deliver numerous benefits that help in improving pain and stiffness. Let’s review a few benefits below.
Increase range of motion
Arthritis patients frequently employ bent postures to reduce their pain. Unfortunately, attempting to cope with the discomfort by keeping your joints in bent angles is counterproductive and ends up causing more loss of mobility. Exercise promotes joint flexibility and helps to avoid future harm.
Patients with arthritis should maintain a healthy weight and do exercises that stretch the joint, such as swimming and walking. Additionally, they should use heat therapy to keep the joints warm and use ice packs after exercise to reduce inflammation.
Muscle and Bone Strength
More support and protection for vulnerable joints are provided by sturdy muscles and bones. Muscle development and bone density improvement are achieved through weight-bearing exercises. These exercises are essential to people with arthritis, who have a greater tendency to lose bone and muscle. A regular program of low-impact aerobic exercise will help you maintain your muscle mass and joint health as you age.
Being overweight is yet another condition that can worsen the symptoms of Arthritis. Regular exercise can help reduce excess weight and shred extra fat from the body. Body movements help in burning more calories and help in weight loss. It further aids in supporting the weak joints without adding any extra pressure on them.
Improved Cardiovascular health
Endurance exercises are gentle on your joints. Practicing these exercises can help enhance your cardiac functions and help them work more efficiently. Besides, it prevents robust pressure on the joints. And thus, stops pain and discomfort in the joints and muscles.
Ease in performing daily activities
Stiff joints can create immense discomfort while performing daily activities. The pain in joints is unbearable that you can’t do the most straightforward job like unbuttoning your shirt. Exercise, on the contrary, helps relieve stiffness and allows you to perform your activities of daily living without distress or pain.
Exercise affects not only your body but also your mental health. Living with chronic pain and discomfort can reveal the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Exercising helps overcome the effects of depression and helps boost your confidence. It improves your mood by releasing natural endorphins, and helps you sleep better.
Below are some of the most effective yet easy exercises that can help you gain all the above-stated benefits in just a matter of weeks.
Exercises for Arthritis
When starting any new exercise program, be sure to consult with your doctor first. He or she can help you create a plan that will work best for you and your arthritis. With a little effort, you can maintain your quality of life and keep your arthritis from stopping you.
There are many exercises that people with arthritis can do to stay healthy and active. Flexibility, strength, and endurance are all elements of a good fitness program. Exercises that stretch the joint, like swimming and walking, are important. Exercises that strengthen the muscles around the joint, like cycling and Tai Chi, are also beneficial.
If you experience any sharp pain, put down what you’re doing. This well-known adage for athletes is even more significant when it comes to arthritis. Pain is your body’s way of telling you that something isn’t right. Listen to it and stop the activity that’s causing the pain. Use heat therapy to keep the joints warm. Ice packs after exercise can help reduce inflammation.
Your body needs to be flexible to restore the range of motion. Warm-up yourself and start with mild and straightforward stretching techniques. Start with usual paced walking, gently massaging your hands and fingers, and then move with regular stretching. Make sure you don’t apply too much pressure on yourself in the initial phase.
You need to strengthen your muscles so they can bear the weight of your body and do not exert much pressure on the joints. You can use resistance exercises for this. Start with using weights, bands, or use your own bodyweight. Simple joint movements with weights can prove to be advantageous.
Walking, aqua aerobics, and stationary bicycles are just a few examples of endurance activities that aren’t difficult on the joints. Warm water swimming is especially beneficial since the temperature and buoyancy protect injured joints.
These exercises can give you the help that your body needs to improve the pain of Arthritis. Additionally, the exercises aid you with further health-related benefits giving, you a better quality of life.
Reach out to your physician
Consult with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine. Your physician can suggest safe activities to perform and avoid injuries.
Considering your health condition, avoid starting with heavy exercises. Start slowly and proceed gradually towards more difficult exercise routines. Initially, work on mastering the basics, and then progress as your body permits.
Modify your workouts
You don’t need to stick to the same routine for a long time. Modify your workouts at regular intervals to target different joints. Besides, you will have to rest and modify your regime to reduce the pressure on the affected joints.
The time that suits you
Often people with Arthritis suffer morning stiffness. Make sure you start exercising when your body needs it the most. Besides, taking a hot shower or applying a heat pack can aid in better movement of muscles and support your exercise.
Work with an expert
Therapists and experts can guide you better in your routine. They can help you take the necessary precautions to prevent injuring your arthritic joints.
Food For Thought
To sum up, exercising with arthritis will improve your quality of life. It can help reignite your confidence, enabling you to live life the way you want to without risking the other adverse effects of the disease.
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I really wanted to talk about this topic today because over 30% of Americans suffer from some kind if chronic or severe pain, according to the IOM, CDC, and NIH. Specifically, 116 million Americans are in pain! The number of individuals who live in pain is far greater than the 30.3 million Americans who have diabetes, 25.4 million people who suffer from cancer, and 14.7 million individuals who are ill with heart disease combined. Chronic pain affects more people than major chronic illnesses do, and the economic cost and complexity of chronic pain are vast.
I use lifestyle medicine as the first line of treatment, before medications, to treat lifestyle-related chronic diseases and chronic pain. Lifestyle-related chronic diseases include diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and some cancers, just to name a few. Lifestyle practices, such as eating a whole-food plant-based diet and regular physical activity, can help you lose weight, and maybe reverse some chronic diseases and chronic pain (if you suffer from them). In certain cases, these approaches may even outperform pharmaceutical therapy.
You can adopt healthy lifestyle practices that improve your health and enrich your life, which can in turn improve the lives of those close to you. You have the power to break the cycle of poor health and improve your pain and inflammation, so that you can leave a legacy of health to your loved ones.
Tools For Pain Management
A Tens Unit can provide drug-free pain relief for sore or aching muscles of the lower back, shoulder, arm, leg and more. This electrotherapy device is widely used for rehabilitation after injury and for the treatment of acute and chronic pain.
Hot and Cold Therapy
Hot and cold therapy is often used for pain management. This gel pack provides a moist therapeutic heat when heated, while soothing cold feeling when used cold. It is also designed to prevent trauma to the skin or nerves.
Please talk with your doctor about any complementary health approaches, including supplements, you use. Let me know what you think in the comment section below.
PS. I am always asked what tools and resources I recommend to help you reach YOUR health goals. Here is the ever-growing, always updated list for you.
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