Exercise' is probably the last thing that comes to your mind when you think of Arthritis. How is it possible to exercise where there is excruciating pain in the joints and muscles; when even the slightest of movements become difficult? Well, the irony is, exercise is a very crucial part of treatment in cases of Arthritis.
For most patients, pain can be a major reason why they are put off exercising. However, with the help of regular and appropriate exercise, they can reap enormous benefits, including:
- Better joint mobility
- Enhanced range of movement
- Improved pain management
- Enhanced muscle and bone strength
- Improved energy levels
- Weight control or even loss of weight
- Improved self-esteem and a positive attitude towards life
If you do not have access to suitable facilities for exercising, here are few tips that will help you get started at home.
- Start gently and slowly and build up gradually. Do not rush up with the exercises. In fact, if you have stopped exercising for some time, it is advisable to start with simpler, basic exercises. You can build up eventually.
- Warm up your muscles to get the best out of your exercise session. Start with movements that help increase the blood circulation to your muscles. Marching on the spot with gentle swinging of alternate arms backwards and forwards is a good start.
- Range-of-motion exercises such as dancing will help maintain normal joint movement and relieve stiffness. It is also a great option if you want to increase flexibility.
- Weight training and other strengthening exercises will help increase muscle strength. And, in Arthritis patients, strong muscles are important for proper support and protection of joints.
- Aerobic or endurance exercises such as bicycle riding will help reduce joint inflammation, improve cardiovascular fitness, control weight, and improve overall wellbeing. Extra weight puts added pressure on many joints and hence weight control should be an important part of your exercise regime, especially if you are overweight.
- Avoid making any rapid, jerky movements, especially exercises such as running on hard surfaces or playing squash, which can adversely affect the damaged joints
- Don't hold your breath when you exercise as it is an important part of the process. Keep breathing normally all through the session.
- If you feel persistently more tired, or have pain or swelling after exercise for a continued period of time, seek advice from a healthcare provider.
- Always remember to wear comfortable clothing that does not restrict your movements. If you are standing and exercising, wear flat, comfortable shoes that support your feet.
When Not to Exercise
Even though you are feeling great with the results of your exercise sessions, there are few basic warning signs that you should be careful about. Stop exercising in the following circumstances:
- When you are unwell or are down with cold or fever
- When exercising hurts, especially in the joint itself
- If you get injured during exercising
- If your joints are more painful than usual
- When you are very tired
- If exercises cause dizziness or any visual disturbance
- When you have difficulty breathing or feel sick
Please remember that the amount and form of exercise recommended for each individual will vary depending on the kind of joints that are involved, their stability, the amount of inflammation, and whether a joint replacement procedure has been done. It is highly advisable to consult a healthcare professional before getting started with your exercise regime.
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