Fitness

Regular Exercise May Help Reduce Arthritis Pain

Last updated: May 01, 2018

If your joints feel painful and stiff from arthritis, regular exercise may help increase your flexibility and strength, lessen your joint pain, and improve your quality of life!

If you have arthritis, regular exercise can help:

  • Build strong muscles to help support and protect joints
    Aerobic exercise and strength (or weight) training can help strengthen muscles that surround and support the joints. For best results, work muscle groups on alternating days to allow joints to rest between workouts
  • Maintain and improve range of motion for joints with gentle movements each day such as slowly raising arms above the head and rolling shoulders forward and backward 
  • Increase bone mass to reduce risk of fractures and breaks
  • Achieve and maintain a healthy weight to lighten the load on joints
  • Maintain and improve balance to prevent trips and falls

In addition, regular exercise promotes health sleep habits that will help ensure you have energy to be active each day.

Talk with your Summit Medical Group rheumatologist
to find out about an arthritis treatment plan, including exercise, that is right for you.

Exercise According to Doctors’ Recommendations
Your doctor can recommend exercises to achieve and improve your fitness without aggravating arthritis pain. She or he also can guide you about the intensity, amount of time, and frequency of exercise.

If you have rheumatoid arthritis (RA), osteoarthritis (OA), psoriatic arthritis (PA), or bursitis your doctor may recommend gentle range-of-motion exercises such as Yoga and Tai Chi to help you move without increasing joint soreness. Working out in a swimming pool also is a good way to exercise without stressing joints.

Ask your doctor what you should expect with exercise, including whether the pain and soreness you experience is normal with moderate exercise. 

Exercise in Moderation
If you have been inactive, start slowly and gradually increase the amount of time and intensity with which you exercise. For example, if you are beginning exercise for the first time or after being inactive, start by exercising moderately (at a level that allows you to carry on a conversation) 15 minutes per day 5 to 6 times per week. As your fitness improves, gradually increase the time you exercise to 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise 5 to 6 days per week.

Rather than exercising vigorously,
the goal for people with arthritis is to exercise moderately each day
and maintain a long-term exercise program.

Choose Exercise to Enhance Your Mobility
Moderate aerobic exercise such as walking, swimming, and cycling are ideal for many people with arthritis. You also might prefer to use equipment at the gym that is designed to cushion the joints such as a treadmill or an elliptical machine.

Strength training, Pilates, Yoga, and Tai Chi also are ideal for increasing muscle strength and improving balance, posture, coordination, and range of motion. 

If you have arthritis, exercising regularly and staying active throughout the day can help alleviate join stiffness and pain. In addition to your workout, it’s wise to engage in low-impact activities such as gardening and household chores each day. If you work at a job that requires you to sit, get up several times each hour and walk for 5 to 10 minutes to prevent stiffness/soreness.

To prevent joint soreness/stiffness and protect your joint health long term:

  • Warm up slowly with gentle movements for 5 to 10 minutes before an aerobic or strength training workout
  • Rest joints and muscles for a day if you are very sore/stiff
  • Stop exercising if joints swell or redden or if you feel sharp pain
  • Apply 20 minutes of warmth with warm towels, hot packs, or a warm bath to relieve pain
  • Apply an ice pack for 20 minutes to relieve pain of swollen joints

Although there is no cure for osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or psoriatic arthritis, staying in motion with regular exercise and other activities can help control your symptoms. 

Summit Medical Group offers one of few rheumatology centers in the New Jersey/New York metropolitan area that performs musculoskeletal ultrasound scanning to diagnose and guide treatment for various forms of arthritis.

Call and schedule an appointment with us today at 908-273-4300
to learn how our physicians can help you manage arthritis symptoms.

Reference

Arthritis Foundation. Exercise. Exercises for Arthritis. Benefits, How To, and Success. arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/exercise/. Accessed April 20, 2018.

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