Exercise routines can be hard to stick to, but when you have arthritis getting started can be even more difficult. However, regular exercise is one of the best things you can do to help manage arthritis pain and maintain a good range of motion.
Reduce Pain and Stiffness. It might seem backward to exercise when joints are stiff and sore from arthritis, but consistent exercise helps keep our bodies in motion. A well-rounded exercise routine that includes aerobic, strength, balance, and flexibility exercises will increase your range of motion. This increased range of motion will help to lower pain and stiffness caused by arthritis.
Joint Support. Muscle strengthening is a key part of a balanced exercise routine. Incorporating muscle strengthening exercises will help provide a better support system for your joints. The more support joints have, the less wear and tear they take on each day.
Improve Balance. Joints affected by arthritis often have reduced coordination and poor balance. They can also increase the risk of falls and injuries. Adding in body-awareness exercises such as yoga or tai chi are joint-friendly ways to help improve balance.
Get a Better Night’s Sleep. When we feel better, we sleep better. Arthritis pain can lead to tossing and turning, making it difficult to get good rest. A consistent exercise routine and regular stretching can ease arthritis aches and pains and promote a more relaxing and restful night of sleep.
Now that we’ve looked at the benefits of exercise, you can use the following tips to get started!
Consult Your Doctor. Talking with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine is always important. Understand what level of soreness is normal, and what kind of pain you should not push through. Your doctor can recommend any special considerations to take that may help reduce injury risk and maximize benefits.
Set Realistic Goals. Choose goals that you feel confident in achieving. Remember to start slow and gradually increase your exercise. Trying to do too much too fast can hinder the benefits of exercise and make it difficult to continue your routine.
Consider Low-Impact. Higher-impact exercise can still aggravate joint pain. Choosing Lower-impact options such as recumbent bikes, ellipticals, water aerobics, or resistance bands are great examples of joint-friendly activities.
Warm-Up & Cool-Down. These are two components of an exercise routine that often get skipped. However, remembering to include a warm-up before exercise and a cool-down afterward will more adequately care for your working muscles. Muscles that are taken care of provide a better support system for your joints.
Remember the old saying, “a body in motion stays in motion.” Keep your body in motion by making a habit out of joint-friendly exercises to manage your arthritis.
Written by BWS Lead Health Coach- Kelly Schlather, BS, ASCM – CEP