When living with the pain and stiffness of arthritis, it is important for you to get enough exercise. While it may seem that engaging in any form of exercise or energetic activity could make you feel stiffer, or increase the level of pain you already feel, there are certain forms of activity that are actually beneficial in reducing the symptoms associated with arthritis.
Exercise has been shown to reduce inflammation, decrease pain, and increase range of motion in those who experience arthritis and other painful joint conditions.
#1. Strength Training
Keeping muscles strong and lean can help reduce some of the stress posed by everyday activities on tender, swollen joints. When you strengthen the muscles, it helps to stabilize the joints, and reduce awkward motions and additional pain. Exercises based on isometrics do not require moving your joints, and may be good if you are new to exercise. Other forms of strength training may include the use of dumbbells, resistance bands, gym equipment, or even your own body weight.
Another great effect of strength training is increased muscle mass. Muscle burns more calories than fat, so this is a good way to help if you need to lose a little weight since weight loss can reduce some strain on certain joints.
#2. Low-Impact Aerobics
When thinking of aerobic workouts, you might first come up with activities that require a lot of jumping around. However, those high-impact activities should be avoided when you have joint pain and swelling issues. Lower-impact options can help to increase your endurance and provide more energy, while also reducing inflammation and pain in your joints.
Some great low-impact activities include walking or biking. You can also use equipment to get a low-impact workout, such as the elliptical machine, a stair climber, or a treadmill.
#3. Range-of-Motion Activities
Exercises that stretch your muscles and the network of tissues that supports your joints can help to reduce stiffness and pain. Stretching exercises can also help to stabilize joints and reduce potential damage from your daily activities.
Yoga, tai chi, and Pilates are all great ways to increase your range of motion gently, and without putting stress on joints. These exercises also enhance the mind-body connection, and can help you to better control pain, reduce inflammation, and decrease stiffness.
The great thing about these activities is they are often available in group classes so you can get out and socialize as well. If you do not like to exercise around others, there are also a variety of DVD selections for you to enjoy these types of exercises at home.
#4. Aquatic Exercises
One of the main reasons those who suffer with arthritis have trouble engaging in exercise, is due to the stress that is placed on the joints. But when you do exercises in the water, there is little to no impact on your joints, as the water holds you aloft during your exercise sessions. Aquatic exercise also helps to relax you, and can even help to improve sleep.
Many with arthritis find that joining swimming lessons in NYC is a great way to get some activity in, while reducing the strain on joints. Check out your local area for indoor and outdoor pools that are open to the public, and if these venues offer aquatic exercise classes or swimming lessons.
The type of exercise you choose will depend on the severity of your arthritis symptoms. As always, speak with your health care professional before beginning any exercise program. For the maximum benefit, combine strength training, range of motion, and low impact aerobic exercises.
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