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Can Exercise Help Arthritis?

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Arthritis affects approximately 54.5 million adults in the United States, including 23.7 million people who have had to limit their daily activities due to their condition. While Arthritis can often start small with the occasional aches and pains, it often grows into a more serious, painful, and degenerative condition. 

Caused by inflammation of the joints, arthritis ultimately results in prolonged stiffness and pain in places such as the hands, feet, elbows, and knees. While most people would assume that increased movement of the body and joints would increase the pain associated with arthritis, doctors and medical professionals in the contrast often prescribe exercise as a way to treat and combat the effects of arthritis  

Recommended exercise for an arthritic patient can differ depending on the type of condition diagnosed, but in general, exercises which can help reduce joint inflammation range from easy low impact activities to even weight training.  

Low-Impact Exercises

Sufferers from some forms of arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can benefit from low impact exercises such as stretching, walking, water aerobics, yoga, or Pilates. These types of exercises keep the affected area in motion, stretches the muscles, as well as builds the particular muscles that surround and stabilize the joints.

Cycling

Riding a bike or cycling offers an efficient and fun exercise option. Not only is it a great cardiovascular exercise but it strengthens leg muscles and knees. The repetitive motion is especially good for arthritic knees because it encourages the production and flushing of fluids throughout the joints. Since it’s a non-weight bearing exercise, it is often prescribed with other forms of exercises that are weight-bearing in order to build bone density.

Strength Training

The Arthritis Foundation recommends weight training using free weights as an option for some patients suffering from arthritis. The use of free-weights includes dumbbells, barbells, weight plates, and medicine balls in strength training. Using lighter weights and higher repetitions can often help prevent an inflammation flare up as the movement and weight helps strengthen muscles around the affected area, lubricates the joints, and decreases bone loss.

A surprise to many, arthritis sufferers can benefit from physical exercise in order to help alleviate symptoms of their diagnosed condition. Active motions such as biking or weightlifting can build muscle while low-impact exercises such as yoga, water aerobics or walking can help strengthen joints to improve the overall function of the affected area. No matter the type of arthritis you may suffer from, make sure to keep your muscles, body, and joints moving and remember to always #StayActive.

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