Many people with arthritis believe that they should avoid exercising for fear of doing further damage to their joints. Research has shown that exercise is, in fact, an important tool in helping to control arthritis and can actually help alleviate many symptoms and allow people to perform daily tasks with less muscle pain and stiffness in their joints.
Getting Started With an Exercise Routine
If you have arthritis, you should consult with your physician before beginning an exercise routine. They can help you choose exercises that are suited to your current health and fitness levels. it is also important to remember to start slowly when you are starting an exercise routine and to make it as enjoyable as possible.
Types of Exercise
There are three primary types of exercise that are particularly beneficial to people with arthritis. Each type of exercise is designed to help you to strengthen your body in a different way. The three types of exercise are:
- Range of Motion Exercises. Range of motion refers to the normal amount that your joints can be moved in certain directions. These exercises involve moving your joints into various positions and then gently stretching. They can help you maintain the freedom of movement you need in order to stay physically active. You should try to do range of motion exercises every day.
- Strengthening Exercises. Strengthening exercises can help maintain or improve your muscle strength. They are helpful because strong muscles help to minimize the strain on your joints, which may help lessen arthritis pain. The two most common forms of strengthening exercises are isometric and isotonic exercises. Isometric exercises involve the tightening of your muscles without any joint movement. Isotonic exercises involve the movement of your joints in order to strengthen muscles. Aim for doing strengthening exercises every other day.
- Endurance Exercises. Endurance exercises help to strengthen your heart. They can also increase your stamina so that you don’t tire as quickly. Some popular forms of endurance exercises include walking, swimming, and riding a stationary bicycle. Start your exercise routine with flexibility and strengthening exercises. Once you adjust to these types of exercises, you can gradually work in some form of endurance training. Try starting with a 5 minute program 3 times each day, and gradually build up to 15 minute sessions.
Some Other Helpful Tips
There are steps you can take before, during, and after your exercise routine to help minimize pain and stiffness.
- Do a gentle warm up of range of motion and strengthening exercises
- Exercise at a pace that is comfortable
- Breathe out as you do the exercise and breathe in as you relax between repetitions
- Always cool down after you finish your exercise routine by doing some gentle stretching
- If joint or muscle pain continues past two hours after you finish exercising, you’ve probably overexerted yourself and need to scale back your exercise routine