November 01, 2020

Arthritis and exercise

Managing joint pain for an active life

The idea that you should rest your joints if you have arthritis is outdated. Physical activity can actually reduce arthritis pain and stiffness, but it's important to know how you to get started and keep from over-doing it.

Arthritis and exercise

Your joints are stiff, swollen and achy due to your arthritis. Sometimes it hurts when you stand, get up from a chair or climb stairs. Won't exercise just aggravate these symptoms and make you feel worse?

In fact, it's just the opposite. The idea that you should rest your joints when you have arthritis is outdated. Today, it's clear that movement is good medicine for osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and many other types of autoimmune joint diseases. Physical activity is not only safe, but can also reduce pain and stiffness while improving your overall health, mood and quality of life.

In addition, physical activity can help fend off the natural loss of joint strength and range of motion that comes with arthritis. Being active helps you perform everyday tasks and maintain your independence. There's no reason not to be as physically active as your abilities and symptoms allow.

Exercising at least 30 minutes on most days of the week is recommended. If that's far more activity than you're used to, you're not alone. Many people don't meet this benchmark — with or without arthritis. But studies show that people affected by arthritis are typically less active than are people without joint conditions.

The best plan for arthritis includes aerobic activity — such as walking or riding a bicycle — that elevates your heart rate, as well as musclestrengthening, flexibility and balance exercises. If you're already doing some of these things, keep it up. Or if that sounds overwhelming,...