Exercise; If we're being honest, we could all be doing more. But this is especially true for people with arthritis who may have problems with joint pain, stiffness and reduced mobility.
Many people with arthritis think that exercising may do more harm than good but this is not true. It is normal to feel sore and uncomfortable after exercise when you haven’t done it in a while but it is important to remember that this does not mean that you are harming your joints.
In fact, regular exercise is essential as it helps to strengthen the muscles and protect and support the joints.
Exercise has even been proven to help reduce the pain of arthritis and improve physical function. Selecting the activity that suits you and your abilities can be tricky so prioritise by increasing your mobility and slowly building your muscle strength.
Our home carers will often encourage and assist people with Arthritis to perform basic exercises, often as a form of physiotherapy. It helps to build strength, and flexibility as well as enhance a person's confidence and overall well-being.
With so many positive benefits, exercise should be considered an important way of improving a person's quality of life. In fact, exercises to help with Arthritis are something we would recommend, so long as you understand the limitations and build up slowly.
The benefits of exercise for people with arthritis:
If you have arthritis there are many benefits to increasing your level of activity. This will not cause more damage to the joints.
Exercising causes the body to produce endorphins which are the body's own natural painkillers, it can also calm the mind and helps to improve sleep quality. It improves muscle strength which can reduce pain and improves balance leading to reducing the risk of falling.
The benefits of exercise include:
- Less pain
- Increased energy
- Improved function
- Better memory and concentration
- Weight control
- Improves mood. Reduces stress and depression
- Improves joint flexibility, ligament strength and muscle tone
- Improves heart and lung function
- Improves balance
- Improves sleep quality
- Improved blood sugar control
- Preserves bone density
- Reduces blood pressure
- Reduces cholesterol
- Boosts immunity
The exercise does not have to be very vigorous to produce benefits. Even gentle stretching or Tai Chi can improve balance and help keep the joints moving and simple walking can dramatically improve fitness and reduce joint pain.
Types of exercise that can help with Arthritis:
There are three main types of exercise and each has different benefits.
- Aerobic exercise improves fitness, stamina and cardiovascular health
- Resistance exercises improve muscle strength and help with pain reduction and balance.
- Flexibility exercises which can reduce stiffness and mobility
Aerobic (cardiovascular) exercise
This type of exercise is designed to make your heart beat faster and to improve your overall level of fitness and stamina, any type of exercise which makes you breathe faster and deeper can be aerobic. Examples include walking, housework, dancing, swimming, gardening, climbing stairs and cycling.
Muscle building (resistance training):
This type of exercise will improve strength, balance and posture as it involves exercising your muscles against resistance. Examples of this type of exercise include strengthening exercises for the knee and balancing on one leg.
Weight training and press-ups would be classed as muscle-building exercises.
This exercise is easier and less painful if your muscles are more flexible. This kind of exercise includes yoga and pilates. These exercises will help improve flexibility and are great for reducing stiffness, reducing muscular aches and pains and can help with improving posture.
Weight-bearing exercises put a small amount of weight through the skeleton which is a great way of reducing the risk of osteoporosis. Weight-bearing exercises include activities such as walking, carrying shopping, housework and dancing but not activities in which your weight is totally supported like swimming.