Exercise is probably the last thing on your mind when a flare up of arthritis hits, but a workout may do you the world of good Download The Car Detective. Staying active is one of the best ways to ease arthritis and joint pain. This doesn’t mean you need to run a marathon – even moderate bouts of exercise can help you manage and improve your condition.
Regular exercise can:
- Reduce painful, swollen joints.
- Increase your flexibility.
- Strengthen your muscles.
- Help you maintain bone strength.
- Control your weight. Less weight means less pressure on joints.
- Fight fatigue and give you the energy you need each day.
- Help you get a good night’s rest.
- Improve your overall sense of wellbeing.
Brisk walking can strengthen your joints and reduce pain. It can also help you lose weight and maintain a healthy weight, which can ease the stress on your joints. Up your daily step quota by using the stairs instead of the lift, going for a walk during your lunch break, or taking a stroll around your neighbourhood on weekends. Aim for at least 30 minutes a day, three to five times a week.
“Cycling at low resistance or any exercise where you can do a full range of leg and arm exercises are great for relieving joint pain,” says Cape Town-based physiotherapist, Trish Lang. It can also reduce pain in your ankles and feet, and strengthen your knees. Give cycling a go for 10 minutes. Then, work your way up to 30 to 40 minutes. Do this two to four times a week.
Swimming is a low-impact sport. This means it is easy on your joints, making it a good choice if you suffer from severe arthritis pain. It also works every muscle in your body and builds strength. At the same time, swimming is very relaxing. Start off slowly by doing as many laps as you can in five minutes. Then, increase the time and distance, mixing up strokes and speeds. Add water aerobics to your routine to keep it fresh.
Chair stands are great for building strong arm and leg muscles, and can be done right in your home. While sitting at a normal height, stand up and then sit down (don’t flop down) using only your legs for support. Use your arms to help, if necessary. To target your arm muscles, use only your arms to raise and lower yourself into the chair. Do 10 to 15 reps of each exercise.
Pilates is great for stabilising your joints and strengthening the muscles that support your joints. It can also improve your flexibility and posture. Dust off your gym mat and give this simple pose a try: lie on your back, bend your knees, and place your arms on the sides of your body. Then, lift your pelvis while you pull in your abdominal muscles. Breathe in deeply as you hold this position. Then, breathe out as you lower your pelvis back to the ground.
- Talk to your doctor before starting any type of exercise. Check how much and what type of activity you should do, and how intensely you should do it. There may be certain exercises you need to avoid.
- Exercise should be fun, so take your time and pace yourself.
- Find an exercise you enjoy. You will be more likely to stick with it.
- Listen to your body, and never try to exercise through pain. If you feel pain or notice any swelling or redness in your joints, take a break.
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