Arthritis Exercise

One recommended way to reduce and relieve your painful arthritis symptoms is through exercise. Doctors recommend it and patients sometimes decide to do it on their own. Either way it is an integral part of slowing down the progression of arthritis symptoms. Thirty minutes of daily activity is recommended to patients who are suffering with arthritis pain. Although, this seems like a lot the objective is to make your activity fun and motivating so that you will continue with the regiment.

            There are several different types of exercises that can be done including walking, aquatics, yoga, stretching, dance, or low impact aerobics. Depending upon the severity of your condition and your own personal preference will determine what type of physical activity you want to partake in. However, I can’t stress it enough, warming up is the most important part of your exercise program. Especially for patients with arthritis, the warm up is vital to relieve stiffness and increase flexibility. Working out with cold muscles and joints can lead to injury or inflammation, and for arthritis patients who already suffer from this it can lead to debilitating pain. Start by applying warm compresses to the major joints i.e. Knees, shoulders, wrists, ankles and hips.

            Follow this with some light stretching. Remember to stretch every major muscle group legs, back, shoulders, and chest. Stretching daily can improve flexibility and strength. Start with your legs by sitting in a chair. Face straightforward. Lift one leg out in front of you while keeping the other foot flat on the floor. Hold your leg straight in front of you for 5 seconds, and then bring your leg back until your foot is behind your knee. Then switch to the other leg. Repeat. Do this 5 times on each leg. Interlock your fingers, and slowly flex your wrists to the left and the right. Do this for several minutes. Then keeping your fingers interlaced turn your palms up to the sky and reach your arms straight up above you. Hold for 10 seconds, then relax and bring your arms back down. Repeat this 5 times.

            Now stand up in front of a table, desk or a windowsill about an arms length away. Lean over and place your hands on the table. Make your back straight with your arms, don’t slouch or round your back and tuck your chin into your chest. Lift your upper back up, towards the ceiling, take a deep breath in. Hold for 10 seconds; exhale as you relax your back to regular position. Repeat this 12 times.

            Stand straight up, and bring your hands behind your back and interlace your fingers. Breath in slowly, while you bring your hands up off your back, lifting upward with your shoulders. While you lift tuck your chin into your chest. Repeat this 12 times.

            Find an empty corner in a room; stand facing the corner with your hands on opposite sides of the walls. With the right foot take a big step backward, leaving your hands placed on the wall.  Keep your chest up and take a deep breath in. While you exhale lean in toward the corner. Repeat this 12 times, then switch feet and do it the same amount of times on the opposite foot.

            Remember to continuously breath while doing stretches. Proper breathing promotes healthy heart rate and increased circulation something that affects people with arthritis.  Also don’t hesitate to drink water. After stretching you are now ready to start physical activity. Exercises such as dancing and low impact aerobics are very good because they increase range of motion something that arthritis patients are limited by.

Another great exercise for arthritis patients is aquatics. Water exercises are an additional benefit to arthritis sufferers because it soothes the joints, while providing resistance to build muscles. Water also reduces the shock to joints during exercise, which normal activities cannot do.  Heated water provides increased dilation to the blood vessels for better circulation. After your workout use a spa, sauna or Jacuzzi to continue increased circulation and provide soothing jets to your muscles.

            If you want even more intensity, yoga will increase flexibility and reduce stress. Start out with beginner’s yoga or gentle yoga, which starts with simple and gentle stretching and poses. As you build strength you can gradually increase to more difficult poses. Find classes through your local gym, newspaper or community.

            Lastly if you don’t have access to a gym or live in a remote area where you can’t get to aquatic, dance, aerobic, or yoga classes, think about walking. Walking is just as effective to improve arthritis symptoms as taking aerobic, aquatic or yoga classes. Remember to use your arms while you walk or add lightweights to improve arm strength.  Walk with friends to motivate yourself to continue with it.

            Whatever type of activity you choose to do, remember to start slow and build up. Its normal to have soreness or fatigue especially when you first start a new exercise regimen, however if your symptoms remain, decrease your activity level until your symptoms cease. If you notice signs of swelling or weakness while exercising, slow down or stop activity and resume on another day. Don’t over do yourself right off the bat, to avoid injury to your joints. You should start to see results within the first week but may vary depending upon activity level, symptoms and types of activity.