• The Importance of Exercising When You Have Arthritis

    on Jan 11th, 2018

Arthritis pain makes even the most simple task feel like a punishment. As much as you surely want to rest and take it easy when your arthritis flares up, that’s actually the last thing you should do. Exercising is so important when you have arthritis — we’re not talking training for a marathon or spending hours at the gym. The point is, get moving! Even if it’s only for a few minutes at a time--movement can be healing. Let’s go over the importance of exercising when you have arthritis.

Improved Blood Flow

When arthritis flares up, you might think that exercising can make it worse. But this is far from the truth. The more you rest and remain sedentary, the more likely you are to have lingering pain. By getting your heart rate up, circulation improves. This brings blood, oxygen, and nutrients to tissues that are stiffening up from arthritis. You’re probably going to notice that the hardest part of exercising is taking that first step. Once you get moving though, it does become easier.

Stronger Bones

As you mature, your risk of osteoporosis and bone loss increases, especially if you’re female. Not only does this weaken your bones and elevate your risk of fractures, but you’re also more likely to experience bone pain. In many cases, you can slow down or even stop the progression of bone loss, just by exercising. Even simple exercises, like short walks, can help keep your bones strong.  

Weight Maintenance

Being overweight puts unnecessary strain on your joints, especially your hips, knees, and ankles. This can make arthritis pain even worse. When you exercise, you burn calories. Not only does working out help you lose weight, it can also help you maintain your body weight once you reach your goal. With less strain on your lower extremity joints, you’re probably going to find exercise a little more comfortable — and more enjoyable — each time you do it.

Stronger Muscles

You don’t need to work out to the point where you’re totally ripped, unless that’s the look you’re going for. But you should focus on some muscle-building exercises several times a week. Your muscles support your joints. So when muscles are stronger, they can protect and support your joints. The next time you’re sitting and watching your favorite show, grab a couple cans of soup or bottles of water and make yourself do a few curls during the commercials. .

Better Mobility

The general exercise recommendation for adults is 150 minutes of moderate activity throughout the week. But older adults with arthritis don’t have to work out that much, although you certainly can if you want. In early 2017, researchers from Northwestern University published their findings of a more realistic goal for older adults.

They found that when arthritis patients got just 45 minutes of weekly moderate activity, including brisk walking, they were 80% more likely to have sustained or even improved mobility and function. Researchers emphasized that doing even a little activity is better than doing nothing. So on days when you’re feeling well, spend 15 minutes walking around the block or go to the corner and back. On days when your arthritis is really flaring up, it’s okay if you only get as far as the mailbox.

Your dedicated practitioner at STAR Ortho can help you get started on an exercise plan. Just remember to keep moving, even if it’s only for a few minutes at a time!

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