Arthritis pain makes it hard to get motivated for exercise. However, getting those joints moving is one of the most effective ways to relieve pain naturally. This is because regular exercise provides a wealth of benefits that include strengthening the muscles and ligaments that surround your joints while increasing flexibility. When you struggle with symptoms such as stiffness and pain, the thought of hitting the ground running may make you cringe. Fortunately, you don’t have to subject yourself to major discomfort to reap the benefits of exercise for your arthritis. Simply explore this guide and discover the benefits of exercising that will keep you motivated for using this natural method to increase your joint health.
Recognize the Importance of Exercise
Exercise is prescribed to heal a variety of ailments, which sometimes leads to people ignoring the wise advice of their doctor concerning starting a workout routine. Yet, exercising really does improve joint health by providing the following benefits:
- Improve bone strength
- Reduce stress on the joints from obesity
- Stimulate the production of fluids that lubricate the joints
- Strengthen muscles around joints
- Increase flexibility and reduce stiffness
- Improve the restorative qualities of a good night’s sleep
- Decrease the risk of further joint injuries
- Reduce pain due to endorphins being released
- Fight systemic inflammation that affects arthritis
Many people with arthritis shy away from exercise because they fear that movement will make their symptoms worse. While you cannot expect to feel all of these benefits instantly, you will notice a reduction in your pain and stiffness after your first workout session. Over time, you will begin to experience long-term benefits such as improved muscular strength and flexibility that helps you manage your arthritis better.
Start By Talking to Your Physician
When you have been inactive and have a chronic health condition such as arthritis, it is important to begin any workout regimen by getting approval from your doctor. This will protect you from going overboard and possibly generating more damage, and your doctor can point you in the direction of exercises that help with arthritis. During this initial physical, your doctor will assess your joints and look for signs of past injuries that could affect the types of exercise programs in which you can participate. They may also check other factors such as your heart health to ensure you get the most out of your exercise routine. Once you get your doctor’s approval, remember to check back in with them if you notice new sensations such as increased pain during or after your workouts. Otherwise, you will need to keep up with your regular exams so that they can track your progress.
Choose the Right Types of Exercise
There are several types of exercise that are especially beneficial for arthritis. These include range of motion exercises, low-impact aerobics and strengthening exercises. Ideally, your workout program should include activities that fall into each of these categories, although you might not participate in each one every day. Having a well-rounded exercise routine ensures that you hit each target that affects your arthritis symptoms.
Explore Low-Impact Aerobics
It is important to avoid placing too much stress on your joints, especially when you are first beginning to exercise. For this reason, many people with arthritis find that activities such as swimming, walking and bicycling help them burn calories while strengthening their muscles without causing harm. These types of activities also stimulate blood flow to the joints that reduces inflammation and promotes healing. Ideally, you should eventually work up to five 30-minute sessions of this type of exercise during the week. However, you may need to start with short 10-minute increments until you gain strength and stamina. Remember using exercise to improve your arthritis should never leave you in so much pain that you can not work out again the next day. Instead, you should focus on a gradual but steady improvement in your abilities.
Improve Flexibility with Range of Motion Exercises
This type of workout should feel like you are being massaged from the inside out. Neck, shoulder and ankle rolls are favorite range of motion exercises that ease the symptoms of arthritis. Stretching and gently moving your joints before other types of exercise also helps you loosen up stiff areas before you get your whole body moving, and you can combine range of motion exercises with other workouts as a gentle finish to your routine. These are also simple enough that you can perform many of them while you are sitting in a chair, and they can be performed daily since they do not overtax your joints. Try including these exercises in your morning routine before you brush your teeth, or use them to ease any lingering aches before you go to bed at night.
Start a Strength Training Program
Working out with weights is an excellent way to strengthen the muscles that surround your joints while also building bone mass that improves arthritis and prevents new injuries. However, it is important to start slowly, and never lift more weight than your body can handle. For this reason, it is best to begin strength-training programs by using your own body weight. Leg lifts, assisted push ups and bicep curls are a few common bodyweight exercises that you can begin until you have developed enough strength to handle weights. As you plan your workouts, make sure to avoid working the same set of muscles two days in a row because resting is important for allowing the muscles to rebuild. Typically, it takes weight lifting for three days a week to achieve noticeable improvements in your strength, but two-day a week workouts will maintain your results once you are happy with your performance.
Now that you are motivated to start using physical activity to improve your joint health, keep in mind that any movement makes a difference. Raking your lawn, walking your dog and even spending time outside tending your garden all work to keep your joints moving. By being proactive and making it a point to increase your physical activity, you can enjoy the pain-relieving benefits of exercise for improving your quality of life with arthritis.