How to Exercise with Arthritis

More Americans are exercising now than ever before. But a large percentage of those who suffer from arthritis are not exercising, even though they can benefit from exercise. The number of American adults who did not exercise in 1989 was 31 percent, and that has decreased to 25 percent in 2008. It was also revealed that 53 percent fewer adults exercise who have arthritis versus those adults who do not have arthritis. This was taken from the 2009 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey conducted by the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

This is very unfortunate because exercise has been shown to reduce arthritis-related pain and improve function. The CDC researchers said that many people with arthritis are physically inactive because of fears that exercise will make their symptoms worse.

While it is true that exercise can initially irritate some arthritic symptoms, overall the symptoms will decrease with proper exercise. Exercise can prevent the arthritis from progressing and getting worse over time.

But it is a matter of choosing the correct exercises. If you have knee or hip arthritis do not run for exercise. Walking might even be too much of a strain on your irritated joints. Look for low impact exercises such as water aerobics or water walking, elliptical machine, stationary bike, rowing machine, stair master or swimming, to name a few. There are many options out there, and there will be an option that works for you, you just have to find it.

Unfortunately, finding the right exercise for yourself is done through trial and error. Try an exercise that you think may be easy on your body, won’t hurt you, and that you will like and stick with. You might have to try a few different types of exercises before you find the right fit. You might try an exercise only to flair up your arthritic joints. If this is the case then move on to another type of exercise. Keep doing this until you can find an exercise that does not irritate your joints. But keep trying and you will eventually find an exercise that works for you.

There are a few things to keep in mind when beginning a new exercise routine. First and foremost, don’t go from doing nothing to exercising 5 days a week for an hour at a time. Ease your way into the exercise. You have to get yourself in shape to exercise. Start out too easy. If you haven’t done an exercise before, or haven’t done it in a long time, you will be surprised at how sore you can get from doing a little bit.

You also should start out with stretching for a week or two before beginning a new exercise routine. If you are tight and sore, exercising will only reinforce those imbalances and irritations.

While stretching practice functional breathing. Shallow chest breathing can cause you to hyperventilate while exercising. It will also make it harder for you to catch your breath. While exercising try to breathe deeply into your belly, breathe as deeply as you can. This will help clear out some of the garbage that can accumulate at the bottom of your lungs, and will provide your body with all of the oxygen it needs to function properly.

Once you have practiced the stretching and breathing for a week to 2 weeks, you will be ready to introduce some low impact, low intensity cardio-vascular exercising. Start out with 20 minutes of cardio 3 days week, no more. And perform the cardio at a very low intensity.

After doing the cardio for 2 more weeks, making sure that you are comfortable with the exercise, then you can increase the intensity and the duration a little bit. After a few weeks of added intensity and duration, then slowly add in some weight lifting exercises.

The Pain Free Lifestyle exercise program does all of this for you. It lists step by step how to introduce exercise into your lifestyle so that you can stick with. I list weight lifting exercises that are easy on your body and that are designed to hit the major, supportive muscles that will give you functional strength throughout the day. These are the muscles that will stabilize and support those arthritic joints without irritating them.

If you do have arthritis, you might have to work through a little pain to get the benefits of exercise. But even if you do have to deal with some pain, overall you will be better off than if you weren’t exercising. And it will set the stage for your body to become more or less stabile as time goes on.

I have attached 2 articles that discuss exercising with arthritis. They are interesting and give some good points. Maybe they will motivate you to start exercising. Even doing a little bit of exercise is better than doing none, and you will be better off for you.



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