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Most people don't understand the benefits of exercises for arthritis. After all, when the pain of arthritis sets in, the last thing you may want to do is go out for a walk or show up for a yoga class.
It may seem like taking it easy, increasing your pain medication, or generally pampering your aching joints is the best way to go, but that isn’t always the case. Actually, exercising between flare ups may lead to fewer flare ups in the future. The stronger and healthier your body, the better your system can manage arthritis and all other health conditions.
The Mayo Clinic suggests that arthritis sufferers focus on specific exercises for arthritis because it can deliver a variety of benefits, including:
Walking is one of the popular exercises for arthritis sufferers because it’s something that most people can do, and it doesn’t require financial investment. Yoga and Pilates are good options because they strengthen and stretch muscles and joints throughout the body, which can help reduce the stiffness and swelling that often comes with arthritis.
Many people find water aerobics soothing, especially during flare ups. You may also try pools that allow you to walk on a treadmill under water, although they are still quite expensive. Most YMCAs offer water aerobics classes that are low impact yet effective.
Some forms of martial arts are also great exercises for arthritis. Tai Chi has become quite popular with seniors, and there are many video series that allow you to learn this art form in the comfort of your own home.
If you don’t want to join a fitness class or hire a personal trainer, there are some exercises that you can use to relieve your arthritis symptoms at home. Here are some of the simplest movements that most people can do comfortably.
The Arthritis Foundation maintains a good collection of arthritis-friendly exercise videos that you can watch online for free. Mix and match the movements to create workouts that suit your needs.
It is good to push beyond your comfort zone just a little each time that you exercise. Your comfort zone will naturally expand, allowing you to push even further without overworking your muscles and joints. This doesn’t mean that you ignore your flare ups. If something hurts, stop, look for a modification, or find a gentler way to exercise.
Some people take a day or two to pamper their joints when a painful flare up hits. This is a personal decision that each person must make, depending on the severity, frequency, and level of discomfort associated with your condition.
Simple exercises like walking in a swimming pool or stretching in your living room may actually soothe your pain, so don’t assume that all exercise must be intense.