Should I Exercise If I Have Osteoarthritis?
One of the most common questions asked in relation to osteoarthritis (OA) is whether or not you should exercise. If people have sore and inflamed joints, the last thing they might wish to do was to start working out. However, moderate exercise according to your level of ability and mobility can often be the best way to preserve function and help you lead a mobile and independent life for as long as possible despite your arthritis.
Arthritis is a chronic condition. This means it is long term and is not going to go away. There is no cure for arthritis at the present time. However, there are many different self-care strategies which have been shown to be effective in relieving the pain of arthritis, including exercise.
One of the main causes of pain is the stiffness that is associated with arthritis. This causes a limited range of mobility. The more you rest, the stiffer you will become. The stiffer you become, the more pain you will experience. Therefore, gentle exercise is the best way to keep your joints as healthy as possible and relieve pain.
The current recommendations for adults in the US is 150 minutes of aerobic activity, and two 30-minute strength training sessions per week. Unfortunately, most Americans don’t get anywhere near that, but if you have OA, it’s time to get up and get moving.
Aerobic activity raises the heart rate to work the most important muscle in your body, the heart. Walking at a moderately brisk pace, doing aerobics or Zumba, swimming or doing aerobics in the water, or cycling, are all low impact and suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels.
The US Surgeon General’s recommendation to take 10,000 steps a day is based on the suggested 150 minutes per week outlined as the minimum to stay fit. All the steps in your day count, from commuting to work and shopping, to any dedicated walking sessions you might wish to do.
Strength training builds muscles. Options include light weights, resistance bands, tai chi, and yoga. The latter two are particularly effective when it comes to OA. They improve range of motion and flexibility. They are also useful for relieving pain due to the mind-body connection through the meditative movements of each exercise.
If you’ve been sitting too much because you are in pain, it’s time to expand your horizons with some new workouts. Then see what a difference they can make to your health and OA pain.