Exercise and Arthritis - Why Exercise?
If you have arthritis, exercise is essential for the following benefits:
Exercise is important for healthy joints. Moving your joints daily helps keep them fully mobile. Strengthening the surrounding muscles helps support those joints. Also, joint movement transports nutrients and waste products to and from the cartilage, the material which protects and cushions the ends of the bones.
Exercise and Arthritis - Types of ExerciseThere are different types of exercise and it's important for you to understand why each is important.
Range-of-motion ExercisesRange-of-motion exercises are gentle stretching exercises that aim to move each joint through their normal maximum range of motion.
These exercises need to be done daily to help keep joints fully mobile and prevent stiffness and deformities. Range-of-motion exercises are important for arthritis patients who -- because of intense or chronic pain -- shy away from moving their joints through their full range.
Some people believe that normal daily activities take joints through their full range of motion but this is not the case. Normal daily activities, such as housework, dressing, bathing, and cooking are not a substitute for range-of-motion exercises.
Strengthening ExercisesStrengthening exercises help increase muscle strength. Strong muscles help support the joints -- making the joints more stable and helping you move more easily and with less pain. The two types of strengthening exercises are isometric and isotonic. Isometric exercises involve tightening the muscles, without moving the joints. These exercises are especially useful when joint motion is impaired. Isotonic exercises involve strengthening the muscles by moving the joints.
Endurance ExercisesEndurance exercises are physical activities that bring your heart rate up to your optimal target level for at least 20 to 30 minutes. Your target heart rate is computed based on age and physical condition. By raising the heart rate, endurance exercises improve cardiovascular fitness. Endurance exercises should be performed at least three times a week to build on their effectiveness. Many arthritis patients who regularly perform endurance exercises find they are able to:
Not all arthritis patients are able to perform endurance exercises however. For example, patients with long-term rheumatoid arthritis who have severe joint damage and functional limitations may be unable to do this type of activity. Endurance exercises for arthritis patients need to be chosen carefully by both our board certified physician specializing in rehabilitation and our physical therapist to avoid further joint injury.
Exercise Choices.You should always discuss exercise plans and goals with your doctor (as mentioned above, we offer board certified MDs who have committed their professional futures to the art of rehabilitative medicine) before starting a routine or program. There may be exercises that are off-limits because they could cause injury or further joint damage, especially when joints are swollen and inflamed. The amount and form of exercise recommended for each individual will vary depending on your evaluated condition.