Why Exercise Is So Important For Arthritis Patients | Max Swahn
Arthritis is a painful condition that can make exercising difficult. Many arthritis patients fall into a lifestyle of total inactivity. However, exercise is too valuable for health and well being to be entirely neglected. Even more importantly, working out is actually one of the best ways to relieve the pain and swelling in the joints that are the hallmark of arthritis.
Exercising has a number of valuable, important benefits that help fight against the negative effects of arthritis. Working out improves strength and flexibility while actually alleviating fatigue. The key point is that while it might seem that exercise would increase pain in the joints, that simply isn't the case. Improving joint flexibility and increasing strength in the muscles surrounding joints in fact reduces the stress placed on joints. In addition, adding or maintaining muscle strengthens bones and improves cartilage health, which serves to further fight against arthritis.
Exercise can also help a person reach or maintain a healthy weight (though following a healthy diet is probably more important). Since extra pounds add more pressure to joints, being at a healthy size will reduce the symptoms of arthritis.
The primary goal of exercise for arthritis patients should be to build strength while increasing flexibility and range of motion (how far joints can move). Here are three exercises that do a great job of accomplishing those objectives.
Yoga, tai chi, Pilates and other regular, organized stretching practices all do a great job of improving flexibility and range of motion. These stretching practices are gentle, relaxing, and beginner-friendly, making them well-suited to anyone unused to regular exercise.
Working with weights is the simplest and most effective way to increase strength, which is crucial to reducing impact on joints. For arthritis patients, strength training isn't about growing huge muscles, but rather improving quality of life by ensuring joints are properly supported. Prioritizing the muscles surrounding the most affected joints is smart.
Low-impact Aerobic Exercise
While aerobic (or cardio) exercise is very valuable, some common aerobic workouts place a significant stress on the joints, making them less than ideal for arthritis patients. Running, for example, applies a great deal of force to the ankles, knees, and hips. Cycling impacts the knee joint heavily. For those with arthritis, gentler workouts are needed. Walking and swimming are two of the best options.
Clearly, regular exercise is a crucial part of improving quality of life for arthritis patients. However, it is also true that arthritis is a serious and complicated condition -- arthritis sufferers should consult with their doctor before taking up any new workout routine. Starting off slowly is also wise. Once a doctor's approval is granted, though, all of the three exercises described will be of tremendous help to people with arthritis.
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