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How Arthritis Patients Can Stay Healthy with Exercise?

November 3rd, 2007 · 1 Comment ·
 
 

This post is the follow-up after the Why Should Arthritis Patients Exercise And Not Just Stay At Home?. As mentioned earlier, suffering from arthritis does not mean that you should not cut down your physical activities. By exercising correctly, you will be fit and healthy. Your doctor or physical therapist can recommend few exercises for you, which may include:

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1) Strengthening Exercises
These exercises help you build strong muscles that will help support and protect your joints. Weight training is an example of a strengthening exercise that can help you maintain your current muscle strength or increase it.

Do your strengthening exercises every other day but take an extra day off if your joints are painful or you notice any swelling.Take it slow and easy when lifting weights. You may need to start with just a one- or two-pound weight (or even no weight at all.) Once you can do three sets of eight or 10 repetitions with ease, gradually increase the weight. Take your time and build up gradually.

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2) Aerobic Exercise
Aerobic or endurance exercises help with your overall fitness. Some of the benefits include:

  • Improving your cardiovascular (heart) health
  • Helping you to control weight
  • Training you for more stamina

Examples of aerobic exercises that are easier on your joints include walking, riding a bike and swimming. Swimming and water aerobics are especially good choices if your joints are too sore for walking. Swimming is ideal because water creates a weightless environment — and if you are weightless, you are not putting pressure on your ankles, knees, hips, wrists or shoulders.

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No matter which activity you choose, do not push yourself too hard. Try to do 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, 3 times a week. You can split up that time into 10-minute blocks as a start. Also, at most, your heart rate should reach about 60 percent to 80 percent of its maximum.

3) Range-of-Motion Exercises
These types of exercises relieve stiffness and increase your ability to move your joints through their full range of motion. Range-of-motion exercises involve moving your joints through their normal range of movement, such as raising your arms over your head or rolling your shoulders forward and backward.

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Every joint should go through its full range of motion every day. If bending the joint in a certain way causes too much pain, stick with movements that are more comfortable. Over time, try to gradually increase your flexibility until the joint regains its full range.These exercises can be done daily or at least every other day.

4) Other Activities
Any movement, no matter how small it is, can help. If a particular workout or activity appeals to you, ask your doctor whether it is right for you. Try gentle forms of yoga and tai chi. Be sure to tell your instructor about your condition and avoid positions or movements that can cause pain.

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Tips to Keep Your Joints Safe

  • Before you exercise, you must know your sore spots. Try to choose exercises that minimize the stress on the most painful joints. If you have pain in your wrists, for example, do not do exercises such as weight lifting or push-ups. Instead, try walking. If your soreness is centered in your knees, avoid exercises like running or aerobics and stick with yoga and light weight training.
  • Start slowly to ease your joints into exercise if you have not been active for a while. If you push yourself too hard, you can overwork your muscles. This will aggravate your joint pain.
  • Apply heat to the joints you will be working before you exercise. Heat can relax your joints and muscles and relieve any pain you have before you begin. Heat treatments should be warm, not painfully hot, and should be applied for about 20 minutes.
  • Move your joints gently at first to warm up. You might begin with range-of-motion exercises for 5 to 10 minutes before you move on to strengthening or aerobic exercises.
  • If you start noticing pain, take a break. Pain that is stronger than your usual joint pain might indicate something is wrong. Slow down if you notice inflammation or redness in your joints. Trust your instincts and do not exert more energy than you think your joints can handle.
  • After your exercise, finish every workout with additional stretching.
  • Ice your joints after exercising. This can reduce swelling and pain. Use a cold pack on your joints for 10 to 15 minutes.

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  • Tell your doctor if your exercise causes:
    • Persistent fatigue or increased weakness
    • Reduced range of motion in your joints
    • Joint swelling
    • Continuing pain

Hopefully, by doing the above exercises with precaution steps, arthritis patients will not have to avoid all physical activities.

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1 response so far ↓
  • Yin Teing // May 4, 2008 at 10:53 PM

    Hi Mun, I visit DM’s site often and in one of his post, he had recommended your blog (hosted in blogger) – but when I went there- I saw a link to XXX site and I wondered what went wrong. Today, I found your site accidentally while doing a fitness topic search.
    But after I read about what happened to you (blogger deleted your account), I also got a bit worried too, since I am a blogger user.

    Oh yeah, back to this post, thanks very much for writing this- I always want more ideas on how to work with special populations like seniors, osteoporosis and arthritis sufferers.

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