Exercise & Arthritis

If you have arthritis, and are considering starting an exercise program, understand what’s within your ability, and what level of exercise is likely to give you the results you want.

Exercise is crucial for people suffering from arthritis. It increases strength and flexibility, reduces joint pain, and helps combat fatigue. Stiff and painful joints are enough to make you cringe at the thought of walking around the block or swimming a few laps.

While running and swimming are great ways to strengthen your joints, completing a marathon or swimming at the pace of an Olympic competitor isn’t necessary. Just moderate exercise can ease your pain and help you maintain a healthy weight. When arthritis threatens your ability to move freely, exercise puts the threat of immobility at bay.

Is exercise good for arthritis?

Does exercise help arthritis? Yes. Not only is it good for it, you SHOULD be doing some exercise and getting yourself active. It will help you all around with pain you are feeling, including arthritis pain.

Why exercise is necessary.

Exercise can help you improve your health and fitness without hurting your joints. Along with your current treatment program, exercise can:

  • Make it easier to get a good night’s sleep
  • Give you more strength and energy to get through the day
  • Help you control your weight
  • Strengthen the muscles around your joints
  • Help you maintain bone strength
  • Make you feel better about yourself and improve your sense of well-being

As we discuss in our next blog, exercise like running keeps your muscles and surrounding tissue strong and is crucial to maintaining support for your bones. In reverse, lack of exercise actually can lead painful and stiff joints. That’s because not exercising weakens those supporting muscles and can lead to increase body weight, creating more stress on your joints.

Check with your doctor first

Talk to your doctor about how exercise can fit into your current treatment plan. What types of exercises are best for you depends on your type of arthritis and which joints are involved. Your doctor or a physical therapist can work with you to find the best exercise plan to give you the most benefit with the least aggravation of your joint pain.

Exercises for Arthritis

Dr. Vinaya Puppala can help treat your arthritis and, along with your physical therapist, recommend exercises that are best for you, which might include:

Range of motion exercises

Within physical therapy, there are many “range of motion” exercises.

Range of motion is a term describing how much you can move with a joint or part of the body without feeling any pain or limitation. Your effective range of motion can be affected by sprains, tears, or pulled muscles after an accident. It can also be caused by lack of exercise and movement on a regular basis, in which the issue is a chronic one.

These exercises relieve stiffness and increase your ability to move your joints through their full range of motion. Range-of-motion exercises involve moving your joints through their normal range of movement. A good example is raising your arms over your head or rolling your shoulders forward and backward. These exercises can be done daily or at least every other day.

Aerobic exercise

Aerobic or endurance exercises help with your overall fitness. They can improve your cardiovascular health, help you control your weight and give you more stamina, giving you the energy you need to get through your day. Examples of low-impact aerobic exercises that are easier on your joints include walking, riding a bike and swimming. Try to work your way up to 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three times a week. Feel free to divide that time into 10-minute blocks if that’s easier on your joints.

Strengthening exercises

Weight training is an example of a strengthening exercise that can help you maintain your current muscle strength or increase it. Strength training exercises help you build strong muscles that help support and protect your joints. Do your strengthening exercises every other day— but take an extra day off if your joints are painful or if you notice any swelling.

Other activities

Any movement can help. If a particular workout or activity appeals to you, don’t hesitate to ask Dr. Puppala whether it’s right for you.