Photo Credit: Patrizia Tilly

Once the pain level has gone down, it’s time to get on your feet. In short, the answer to whether or not arthritis can be helped by exercise is: YES. Studies have shown that exercise helps people with arthritis in many ways. Exercise reduces joint pain and stiffness and increases flexibility, muscle strength, cardiac fitness, and endurance. It also helps with weight reduction and contributes to an improved sense of well-being.

Exercise is one part of a comprehensive arthritis treatment plan. Treatment plans also may include rest and relaxation, proper diet, medication, and instruction about proper use of joints and ways to conserve energy (that is, not waste motion) as well as the use of pain relief methods.

The most recommended forms of exercise are boiled down to three main categories: Range-of-motion, strengthening, and endurance exercises. Range-of-motion exercises (e.g., dance) help maintain normal joint movement and relieve stiffness. This type of exercise helps maintain or increase flexibility. Strengthening exercises (e.g., weight training) help keep or increase muscle strength. Strong muscles help support and protect joints affected by arthritis. Aerobic or endurance exercises (e.g., bicycle riding) improve cardiovascular fitness, help control weight, and improve overall function. Studies show that aerobic exercise can reduce inflammation in some joints. Weight control can be important to people who have arthritis because extra weight puts extra pressure on many weight bearing joints.

Lastly, there are many people who can offer help with exercising. Many health clubs and community centers offer exercise programs for people with physical limitations.

1) Range of motion
2) Weight training
3) Endurance training

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