According to a 2011 study of arthritis patients performed by the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, about 55 percent of women and 40 percent of men are inactive. Very few of the men and women in the study came close to the recommended 30 minutes of exercise each day. Whether the inactivity is due to arthritic pain or the fear of pain, avoiding exercise is actually counterproductive. Regular exercise plays a vital role in managing arthritis symptoms and successfully coping with this painful condition.
Studies have shown that exercise helps arthritis sufferers enjoy a greater range of motion, improved balance, and reduced joint pain. While almost everyone can safely perform the following exercises, it’s always recommended to get your doctor’s permission first.
Not only is yoga enjoyable for arthritic seniors, it’s highly beneficial as well. Studies have proven yoga to be a very effective treatment for arthritis symptoms. Yoga increases muscle strength, improves flexibility, increases energy, enhances respiratory endurance, and improves balance – which reduces your risk of falls. Yoga also gives you a mental boost, which is especially important for seniors who suffer from depression.
If you can’t seem to find a beginner’s yoga class near you, rent a video from your local library. The instructions should be easy enough to follow on your own, and you can get a feel for whether or not yoga is for you.
Any form of aerobics is beneficial for overall health, but water aerobics is easier on the joints. You’re not bearing your own weight, which will allow you to exercise longer with few (if any) side effects. Swimming – even doing simple stretches – is also a good way to warm up your muscles and relieve arthritis pain. Aqua therapy has long been used for treating arthritis patients, so visit a local YMCA or senior center to give it a try.
Working with weights may not be for everyone, but it can definitely be effective for some. It’s important to be familiar with which body parts are more vulnerable to flare-ups, so you can avoid overexerting those areas. Resistance exercises build strong muscles, which are needed to support and protect joints affected by arthritis. A strength-training study by Tufts University showed that strength-training decreased pain in osteoarthritis sufferers by 43 percent, improved physical performance, and decreased disability. Similar positive effects have been seen in rheumatoid arthritis patients.
Even when you have a chronic pain condition like arthritis, you can successfully stay physically active. The key is to find whatever works for you personally. It may take time to find an effective workout, but keep trying until you do.