Exercise Habits That Can Help Your Arthritis in the New Year

Studies have shown that you can reduce arthritis pain while improving joint flexibility and strength with a regular program of exercise. As the new year approaches, there’s no better time to focus on ways to enhance your quality of life and regain an active lifestyle – even with arthritis.

The Benefits of Regular Exercise on Arthritic Joints

  • Range of Motion: Low-impact and stretching exercises can help maintain or even improve the range of motion and flexibility of your joints.
  • Stronger Muscles: Strength training exercises help build your muscles, so they can provide better support and protection of your joints.
  • Increased Bone Mass: Weight training also increases bone mass, and stronger bones reduce the risk of breaks and fractures.
  • Improved Balance: Exercises specifically geared towards improving your balance will help prevent falls, which could lead to further joint damage or more serious injuries.
  • Healthy Weight: Exercise helps you shed unwanted pounds that would otherwise put extra stress and pressure on your joints, potentially damaging them further.

Additional Benefits:

  • Better Endurance: Aerobic types of exercises like swimming, walking, and biking strengthen your cardiovascular system, which increases your endurance and improves your health overall.
  • Better Quality Sleep: Regular exercise promotes healthier sleep habits resulting in a better night’s sleep and plenty of energy the next day so you can remain active.

Now that you know the benefits of exercising, the next important step is to create an exercise plan that’s right for you. Depending on the type of arthritis, severity, and location will determine the best types of exercises for you. Talk to your orthopedic doctor or a licensed physical therapist who can help customize the perfect work out plan for you to minimize joint pain and injury.

An exercise program specifically tailored to your type of arthritis can help relieve soreness, pain, and stiffness and preserve the function and structure of your joint. Your plan will likely include some of the following types of exercises.

The Best Exercises for Joint Pain

  • Moderate Aerobic Activities:
    • Walking
    • Swimming
    • Cycling
    • Low-Impact Aerobic Dance Classes
  • Range of Motion Exercises:
    • Stretching
    • Isometrics
    • Aqua Therapy  
  • Strength Training & Balance Training:
    • Yoga
    • Tai Chi
    • Pilates

Tips for Starting Your Exercise Plan

  • Schedule your workout during times when your pain and stiffness is at its lowest.  
  • Applying heat to achy joints or taking a warm shower before exercising may be helpful.
  • Start slowly at first and warm up with gentle movements for about 10 minutes before beginning an aerobic or strength training session.
  • Listen to what your body is saying – if you experience sharp pain or a dull ache is getting progressively worse, stop and rest. Apply a cold pack to swollen area for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Short rest breaks while staying in motion is better than long periods of inactivity. Stay with it, and you will experience the benefits.
  • Keep it interesting. If you hate exercising, find something you do enjoy like walking through the woods or a park, playing fetch with the dog, or learning how to dance. Also, look into Virtual Reality video games where you might be having so much fun you don’t even know you’re exercising.

The Bottom Line

Refraining from physical activity because of arthritis pain or discomfort can lead to weight gain, significant loss of muscle, decreased flexibility, and overall weakness, which could increase your chances of further injury. Start the new year by taking control of your health and doing everything you can to maintain an active and enjoyable lifestyle.

Speak to one of the orthopedic specialists today at Coastal Orthopedics. We can help you manage your arthritis pain and create a healthy exercise program to get that pep back in your step! Call us today at 941-792-1404 or request an appointment online.