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Exercise and Arthritis
A cure for arthritis is yet to be discovered but there is something very simple that you can do to keep your arthritis in check: Exercise.
Exercising painful, swollen joints to make them healthier and less irritated may sound counterintuitive but it genuinely is the best way that you can manage your arthritis.
Exercise has many physical benefits:
Improved muscle strength means less joint pressure There are a wide-range of exercise types that you can do, all of which have benefits. Try to choose exercise types that you enjoy and that are suitable for you to practice on a regular basis over a sustained period of time. If you can, it is also recommended that you combine aerobic activities and muscle strengthening work. For example, going for a 30-minute walk every evening and using weight machines in the gym two mornings a week would provide you with a healthy exercise balance.
Guidelines for Exercise:
Some is always better than none: Getting any amount of physical activity is better than getting none. Even the smallest amounts of exercise have some health benefits.
Do your best to get recommended activity amount: It is recommended that every week you get at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity or 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic activity or an equivalent mix of moderate and vigorous intensity activity. Aerobic activity should be performed in episodes of at least 10 minutes and should be spread throughout the week.
If you can, do more than that: For additional and more extensive health benefits, increase your aerobic physical activity. Every week aim for 5 hours of moderate-intensity or 2 hours and 30 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent mix of moderate and vigorous-intensity activity.
Do muscle-strengthening work too: Stronger muscles will help to support damaged joints. You should aim to do muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days every week. Muscle-strengthening exercise should require a moderate or high level of effort and should involve all major muscle groups – legs, hips, back, abdomen, shoulders and arms.
What types of aerobic exercise are best for arthritis?
Although walking is the most universally accessible type of exercise, no one type of exercise in necessarily better than any other and it is very much down to what type suits you, depending on your interests and overall health and fitness level, the joints involved and severity of OA. Be sure each episode of activity is at least 10 minutes long is of at least moderate intense. This means that biking to work, walking to a store, raking leaves or even playing in the snow would all count. The possibilities for physical activity are endless.
Muscle-strengthening exercise (also called resistance training) is essential to achieve overall fitness, and also is a critical component of arthritis management. Like shock absorbers, muscles help to absorb the force directed to a joint during movement and activity. Muscles also stabilize and support joints. Your joints will appreciate the improved muscle strength that comes from doing aerobic activity but targeted strengthening exercises, like working out in the gym, will give you even more support.
As a general recommendation, a full routine of moderate- to high-level intensity muscle-strengthening exercises should be performed at least two times per week (but not more than four times) and should work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, chest, abdomen, shoulders, and arms). Each session should begin with a warm-up (10 minute of aerobic activity, such as brisk walk or walking in place).
Gentle stretching every day helps keep joints and muscles limber, improving joint range of motion. Increase flexibility with by doing a stretching routine or yoga or tai chi. Stretching should be done after muscles are warmed up by a 10-minute walk or walking in place.
Chemicals released in the brain during exercise reduce pain
Lowers inflammation without the side effects associated with medication.
Lowers blood pressure
Decreases risk of stroke
Helps to keep excess weight at bay
Gives the brain a boost too.
One of the long-standing myths about arthritis is that staying in bed and not moving your joints will prevent inflammation. Although this sounds logical, in reality it couldn't be further from the truth. The truth is that exercise on a regular basis, like going for a walk every day, can make a huge difference to how you live with arthritis as well as to your overall quality of life.
Source : Arthritis Ireland