Exercising regularly throughout the day can ease pain, especially for those experiencing pain during movement
It might seem counterintuitive to exercise if you have arthritis and experience pain during movement, but the experts all agree that even small amounts of exercise throughout the day can improve arthritis pain and ease the associated discomfort.
Improved overall health
The key is to keep moving, the more you move the easier it will become over time. Start out conservatively with 10 minutes of light movement three times a day and build on that until you can manage 30 minutes in one go per day. Regular movement will not only keep the joints more mobile, but it will also strengthen the muscles.
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In the long-term, the benefits of regular exercise will result in improved overall health and will go a long way to ensuring you remain independent and easily mobile as you get older. Before doing any kind of exercise, it’s advisable to get the all-clear from your doctor.
Then start out slowly with 10 minutes a day. If that feels manageable and you experience no sharp pains or swelling following your exercise, you should be able to continue that way for at least a week. As you feel able, gradually increase the time by a few minutes a day.
Listen to your body and if you feel any pain that is your body’s signal to stop and rest.
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The three types of exercise you should aim to do include:
- Strength exercises
- Aerobic exercise
- Movement exercises
Strength exercises can be anything from bodyweight movements such as squats, to weight-bearing exercises with dumbbells or light barbells. Not only will strength exercises build muscle strength, but they can also improve bone density. If possible you should consider enlisting the help of a qualified trainer to assist you with an effective weight-training programme.
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Aerobic exercises include anything which elevates the heart rate and gets the blood pumping. Light aerobic exercise will strengthen the heart and lungs and increase your overall fitness. If you are overweight, then regular aerobic/ cardiovascular exercise can also help shed those extra kilograms and keep you in shape.
For many people with arthritis, light aerobic exercise is the best place to begin to build stamina and can include low-impact exercises such as walking to cycling, swimming and some cardio equipment, such as the elliptical or rowing machine. Movement exercises refers to anything which mimics daily living activities and encourages you to move in patterns which the body was designed to do, so the joints are all moving gently and throughout their full range of motion.
This will in turn improve your mobility and flexibility. Common movement exercises include yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi and some forms of low-impact dancing such as ballroom dancing.
Whichever form of exercise you choose to do, the aim is to move well, move often and move smart. Never push yourself to the point of pain, but don’t be afraid to push outside your comfort zone.
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Sources: Arthritis Research UK; Rheumatology