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Exercising with Arthritis: Do it Right

12/5/14 4:54 PM
Arthritis doesn’t have to debilitate or destroy your lifestyle.  Many people with arthritis are able to enjoy the quality of life they desire, escape surgical procedures, and decrease their pain by improving their overall fitness level through exercise.  

When arthritis attempts to slow you down, exercise will help to keep you moving.

Benefits of exercise for arthritic patients include:

  • Helps to decrease swelling

  • Exercise promotes weight loss

  • Increases in energy and drive

  • Reductions in Pain and stiffness

  • Increases in strength, flexibility, and stamina

  • Improved mental attitude and outlook

  • Better sleep

Exercise routines for arthritis should be well balanced including strengthening, flexibility training, and aerobic conditioning.  

Strengthening Exercises:  

Weight training is an example of strengthening exercises that will help build muscle to protect your joints.  By alleviating the pressure on the joints and increasing bone strength, patients may have less pain and experience less effects of the disease.  

Strength training should be done 3-5 days a week, with rest days in between.

Flexibility:Stretching, yoga, and other flexibility training is crucial to help your joints maintain their full range-of-motion.  Flexibility exercises help to prevent unwanted joint pressure and swelling.  People with arthritis should work on flexibility daily or at least every other day.  These exercises can be as simple as swinging your hips, raising your arms over your shoulders, or stretching your spine.  

Aerobic Conditioning:  

Aerobic training focuses on improving your overall cardiovascular health.  This will help you maintain a healthy weight, improve energy and stamina, and alleviate stress.  Those with arthritis may consider low impact aerobic exercise such as aquatics, trail walking, elliptical machines, or cycling.  

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes a week of aerobic conditioning a week for important health benefits, but don’t stress, that can be broken up into blocks of 10-20 minutes a day to see results.  

Before starting an exercise program, be sure to consult a qualified healthcare professional.  If you have questions on tailoring a specific exercise routine to your personal life and conditions, call one of our offices!



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Written by Jeffrey Romans.

Jeff Romans, PT is a contributing author to our blog and a great resource on Physical Therapy.

Topics: arthritis, pain, exercises