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Why It's Essential to Exercise When You Have Arthritis

Everyone benefits from exercise, but if you’re one of the 27 million people with osteoarthritis, you experience extra positive effects. Exercise improves energy, helps with weight control, and can even fight depression and fatigue.

If you have arthritis, you might think exercising will be painful, but don’t skip exercise because it’s uncomfortable. Work through that discomfort gradually, and you’ll experience long-term improvements of your condition.

At Alleviate Pain, we encourage our patients with arthritis to exercise, and help them find the activity that works for them. Here are some of the benefits you’ll reap from exercising if you have arthritis.   

Joint mobility

With osteoarthritis, you have pain, swelling, and stiffness because of cartilage breakdown. But moving your joints daily, even when they hurt, improves your overall range of motion and combats stiffness. The movement of exercise enhances circulation to arthritic joints, delivering extra nutrients and removing waste products from the area, too. So exercise boosts not only the mobility, but the overall health of your joints.

Muscle strengthening

Even mild-to-moderate exercise helps strengthen the muscles around your joints. Stronger muscles help take pressure off the joints, so movement becomes more accessible. When you keep the muscles and surrounding tissue strong, it helps maintain support for your bones.

Improved sleep

When you have osteoarthritis, sleeping can be a challenge. You may struggle to find a comfortable position and wake intermittently due to pain. Exercise can help tire you out so you find sleep comes more readily. And with better sleep, you have more pep during the day, so you feel healthier and happier.

Weight control

Exercise burns calories, which helps keep your weight on track. Excess weight exacerbates the pressure on your joints, making arthritis more painful. Keep yourself trim to minimize arthritis pain.

Better balance

Falls are a major cause of injury in older adults and can be especially debilitating for people with osteoarthritis. Exercise helps you have better awareness and control over where your body is in space, so you’re less likely to suffer a fall and the resulting injuries.

Types of exercise for osteoarthritis

Exercise that’s mild and gentle can benefit you -- no need to run a race or lift large barbells. Range-of-motion exercises, such as arm circles or bending and extending your knee as you sit in a chair, can help keep your joints mobile. These exercises can be done daily to improve your overall comfort and ability to do normal tasks, such as washing dishes and getting dressed.

You also benefit from strengthening exercises to build muscle support for aching joints. Use a resistance band, light weights, or your body weight for these moves, such as wall push-ups or gentle squats. Dr. Parmar and his team at Alleviate Pain can help you set up a strengthening exercise menu.

Cardiovascular exercise helps keep your heart healthy and boosts your energy. A short walk, water aerobics, or swimming are a few examples of these endurance challenges that are friendly to your joints.

Call or click to make an appointment with Dr. Parmar, and talk with him about what activities are most appropriate for you. You choose exercise depending on the joints involved, your level of inflammation, presence of joint replacements, and any other physical limitations you may have. He works closely with you to establish an exercise plan that will benefit your well-being, and not cause undue stress.

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