Exercise is so important for people with arthritis. It can increase strength and flexibility, reduces joint pain, and helps combat fatigue. Understandably, when stiff and painful joints are already bogging you down, the thought of walking around the block or swimming a few laps might seem overwhelming.
Tips to protect your joints when exercising with arthritis
- Keep the impact low. Low impact exercises such as stationary or recumbent bicycles, elliptical trainers, or exercise in the water can help keep joint stress low while you move.
- Go slowly. Exercise with slow and easy movements and remember that pain equals stop. Sharp pain and pain that is stronger than your usual joint pain might indicate something is wrong. Slow down if you notice swelling or redness in your joints.
- Apply heat. Heat relaxes your joints and muscles and helps to relieve any pain you have before you begin. Heat treatments such as warm towels, hot packs or a shower, should be warm (not painfully hot) and should be applied for about 20 minutes.
- Move gently. Try to move your joints gently at first to warm up. Begin with range-of-motion exercises for five to 10 minutes before you move on to strengthening or aerobic exercises.
- Ice afterward. Apply ice to your joints for up to 20 minutes as needed after activity, especially after an activity that causes joint swelling.
Why Exercises Is Important When You Have Arthritis
Exercise can assist you in improving your health and fitness without hurting your joints. With your current treatment program, exercise can:
- Give you more energy to get through the day
- Make it easier to get a good night’s sleep
- Help you control your weight
- Strengthen the muscles around your joints
- Help you maintain bone strength
- Enhance your quality of life
- Improve your balance