Posts Tagged ‘arthritis’

Arthritis: Keeping Your Joints Healthy

Exercise is one of the best ways to help people with arthritis control their disease and improve their health.

Yet, some people still abide by the old myth that exercise hurts your joints.

A generation ago arthritis sufferers were sent to bed to “save their joints.”

That only did more harm than good because inactivity causes arthritic joints to stiffen and unused muscles to atrophy.

Now multiple studies have shown that exercise helps strengthen muscles to support and protect joints, even those affected by arthritis.

If you have arthritis and exercise regularly you’re likely to have less pain and joint swelling, improved function, and increased strength, endurance, and flexibility. And without harming your joints.

Several forms of structured exercise programs can help arthritis sufferers, according to a newly updated report from Harvard Medical School entitled “Arthritis: Keeping your joints healthy”:

Water-based programs. Also known as aquatic or pool therapy, these group classes are done in water that’s nearly 90° F and feature a variety of exercises, including range-of-motion exercises and aerobics.

Water helps support your body so there is less stress on the hips, knees, and spine. These programs can lead to improved knee and hip flexibility, as well as strength and aerobic fitness.

Strength and resistance training. Using equipment such as weight machines, free weights, and resistance bands or tubing strengthens not only muscles but also your bones and your cardiovascular system.

Studies show that resistance training improves muscle strength, physical functioning, and pain in most people with knee osteoarthritis.

Tai Chi. This low-impact, slow-motion exercise, based on ancient martial arts, emphasizes breathing and mental focus.

Tai Chi may have a positive effect on physiological processes important in arthritis, such as physical function, flexibility, pain, and psychological well-being.

A number of small studies suggest Tai Chi helps people with different forms of arthritis, mainly by increasing flexibility and improving muscle strength in the lower body, as well as aiding gait and balance.

A systematic review of 7 randomized controlled studies of Tai Chi for chronic musculoskeletal pain conditions found that Tai Chi had a small positive effect on pain and disability in people with arthritis.

What’s more, systematic reviews and individual studies show that Tai Chi can reduce the pain of knee osteoarthritis.

The message is simple for those with arthritis: get up and go!