Exercising with Arthritis

The Benefits of Low-Impact Workouts

Exercising has been shown to reduce pain and stiffness associated with arthritis and is essential for building up muscles around joints; however, high impact exercises like running can actually cause wear and tear to joints, aggravating arthritis further. This is why we recommend low impact exercises that are easy on painful joints, and are even shown to carry additional benefits including weight loss, increased stamina, and cardiovascular health.

Low-impact exercises are defined as any exercise that is easy on the joints, gentle, or fluid in motion. This includes activities such as walking, swimming, yoga, elliptical exercises, and even cycling.

Walking

For people who are just starting out, walking is a great low-impact workout that almost everyone can do, and the best part is it’s free! Walking helps by lessening stress on joints and improves the symptoms associated with arthritis. With each motion, your body actively lubricates your joints, helping with stiffness and reducing pain. This type of exercise can be done almost anywhere, and has been shown to help with weight management or loss, increased blood circulation, and an overall increase in general and mental wellness.

To further reduce stress on joints, it is always important to consider surface type and shoes. Ensuring that the surface of the ground is not too hard will reduce the amount of irritation experienced with any daily exercise, and a good pair of shoes will ensure that impact is absorbed by your shoes and not your body.

Elliptical Machines

Joints can become irritated by the jerking motion caused by running and can actually deteriorate the cartilage around your knees throughout the years if you run too much. For individuals who have arthritis, running can result in pain and stiffness that exceeds their normal symptoms. This is why we recommend elliptical exercises as a substitute. You still receive the same type of cardio workout with a similar motion but with reduced impact to joints. These machines work using an elliptical (oval-shaped) motion that eliminates the irritation inducing jerking motion that come with running exercises. Impact is furthered reduced because your feet never leave the pedals, which eliminates the force caused when your feet land on a hard surface like asphalt or concrete.

(credit Pixabay)

Yoga

If you are looking to improve flexibility while relieving stress, yoga is for you. Regularly practicing yoga has been shown to reduce joint pain, improve joint flexibility and function, and lower stress and tension to promote better sleep in individuals with arthritis. With an abundance of benefits, yoga is a very gentle exercise that focuses on balance, stretching, and building strength in your muscles. This type of exercise can be performed in your own home or in a group setting. Classes are often offered at your local gym, or you can visit a dedicated yoga studio.

Swimming

Swimming acts as a way to further reduce the risk of arthritis by allowing a person to maintain their normal muscle strength and structure of joints. This makes it not only a great exercise for arthritis but also for holding off arthritis. With this kind of exercise, 90% of your body weight is supported by the water making it easier to perform movements that are typically painful while increasing mobility. If swimming laps is not your cup of tea, aqua jogging and aqua aerobics have also been shown to relieve symptoms and are often offered in group classes at your local gym.

Cycling

Cycling limits impact stress on weight-bearing joints, like your hips, knees, and feet making it a great low-impact exercise for individuals with arthritis. This can be done on a stationary bike or and outdoor bicycle. A great option for individuals looking for a cardio workout, cycling also helps with weight control, circulation, and muscle strengthening. With adjustable intensities, you are in control of how intense your workout is. Some tips for cycling with arthritis include gentle movement, ensuring you are in the correct gear, stopping if anything hurts, and making sure to stretch before and after your workout. This will guarantee that you get the most out of your workout and you do not further aggravate your symptoms.

Conclusion

Exercising is a great way to reduce pain and stiff joints associated with Arthritis, and there are so many low-impact exercises to choose from. When you are suffering from symptoms, you may not feel like moving, but relief in the form of lubricated joints is within reach. We encourage you to get moving so that you can feel your absolute best.

Resources

YMCA Gym Finder

Gym and Fitness Club Finder

Silver Sneakers – senior walking club

Yoga with Adriene – Free online yoga classes

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