Maintaining a regular exercise routine is vital and essential for an overall health development. For people with arthritis, regular exercise serves to enhance conditions which can effectively control arthritis. The following observations have been found to be associated with arthritis exercise.
• Increase in energy levels
• Helps to develop a better sleep pattern
• Effective weight control
• Maintaining a healthy heart
• Enhance bone and muscle strength
• Decrease depression and fatigue
• Improves self-esteem and confidence
For people with arthritis, exercise is very helpful with regard to the various joints. Movement and regular exercise of the joints helps to keep them fully mobile. Added joint support is achieved by strengthening the surrounding muscles. Mobility of the joints helps to transports nutrients and waste products to and from the cartilage.
Types of Exercise
1 Range-of-motion Exercises (ROM)
Range-of-motion exercises are gentle stretching exercises which move each joint in all directions possible.
These exercises need to be done regularly to keep joints fully mobile and prevent stiffness and deformities. ROM exercises are vital for arthritis patients. Due to intense inflammatory pain, arthritis patients tend not to want to move painful joints. Some arthritis patients feel that normal daily activities take joints through their full range-of-motion but this is not the case. Normal daily activities, such as housework, dressing, bathing, and cooking, are not seen as a substitute for ROM exercises.
2 Strengthening Exercises
These are to help increase muscle strength. Strong muscles help to support the joints, making the joints more stable, which helps a person move more easily and with less pain. There are two types of strengthening exercises, isometric and isotonic. Isometric exercises enhance the muscle strength, without movement of the joints. These exercises are especially useful when joint motion is impaired. Isotonic exercises strengthen the muscles by moving the joints.
3 Endurance Exercises
They are physical activities that bring your heart rate up to your optimal target level for at least twenty to thirty minutes. The target heart rate is computed based on age and physical condition. These exercises, by raising the heart rate, improve cardiovascular fitness. These exercises have to be performed at least three times a week for optimum effectiveness. Many arthritis patients who do endurance exercises will:
• increase physical strength
• develop a better and healthy mental attitude
• improve arthritis symptoms
However, not all arthritis patients are able to perform endurance exercises. Patients with long-term rheumatoid arthritis and left with functional limitations will be unable to do this type of activity. Endurance exercises for arthritis patients need to be chosen carefully to avoid joint injury.
Arthritis patients must always discuss their exercise plans with a doctor. There may be many exercises that are taboo for people with a particular type of arthritis or when joints are swollen and inflamed.
Exercise choices for people with arthritis may include:
Walking on a regular basis is one of the best forms of exercises for any one with arthritis. It helps build strength and maintain joint flexibility, aids in bone health and reduces the risk of osteoporosis.
Tai Chi is an ancient martial arts exercise which has its origins in China. The graceful movements associated with tai chi helps to circulate energy flows throughout the body. This is an excellent relaxation technique which also helps to, maintain mobility and improve range of motion.
Yoga – This can provide pain relief, relax stiff muscles and ease sore joints. It’s controlled movements, pressures, stretches and deep breathing relaxation, can also provide a range of motion exercises needed by arthritis patients. Be careful when disease activity is flaring and avoid excess torque or pressure on the joints.
Water exercises: This is a fine way to build up strength, ease stiff joints and relax sore muscles. The water helps support the body while the joints are moved through the full range-of-motion. The buoyancy of the water places less stress on the hips, knees, and spine.
Cycling is a good, low impact arthritis exercise option. Cycling as an arthritis exercise, can either be freestanding or stationary. The equipment can be adjusted and adapted for many of the limitations imposed by arthritis.
Jogging. Though running may be a harder form of exercise, it may still be good arthritis exercise if patients run on softer surfaces. Walking or gentler forms of exercise may be a better option for people with arthritis in their lower extremities. Research indicates, contrary to popular belief, that running does not cause osteoarthritis in those with normal, uninjured knees.