If we have an underlying health condition, like arthritis, exercise may be difficult and almost scary. No matter the benefits, if we think exercising will increase our pain, it’s likely we’ll avoid it. Here’s what you need to know about staying active with arthritis.
Arthritis is inflammation of the joints. It sounds simple, but there are nearly 200 different types of arthritis. Inflammation in the joints can cause pain and restrict mobility. Because of this, it may be difficult to determine if exercise is safe or not. Here are a few things to consider if you have a type of arthritis and are curious whether or not you can partake in exercise.
1. What kind of arthritis do you have?
As mentioned above, there are nearly 200 different types of arthritis, so what type you have plays a large role in determining whether or not you can exercise. This is because symptoms can vary and might hinder one’s ability to perform physical activity.
For example, rheumatoid arthritis causes stiffness that can actually improve with exercise. On the other hand, someone with osteoarthritis should avoid heavy weights as it can make joint pain and stiffness much worse.
To know if exercise is safe for your type of arthritis, speak to a doctor or a physical therapist who can help you understand the type of arthritis you have.
2. How is your pain?
Those with arthritis all have good days and bad days when it comes to pain. Maybe one day you wake up flexible and mobile, and on others you’re as stiff as a board. Your pain level can also help determine whether or not you should exercise. By recognizing your level of pain you, with the help of your doctor, can create limits for your exercise routine to get the maximum benefits with no side effects.
3. Do you have other medical conditions?
Other medical conditions can greatly determine your ability to exercise with arthritis. With other medical conditions come additional medications that can complicate exercise. To determine the best type of exercise it’s important to look at your “big picture” health outlook.
4. What current shape are you in?
Sure it would be great to just jump right in and start running or lifting weights, but you have to be realistic and check your level of fitness. If you haven’t been able to exercise for a while, too much intensity can have more consequences than benefits. Start off slow and work with a physical therapist who can ease you in to an exercise regime.
By asking yourself these four questions you can determine whether or not exercising with arthritis is the right move for you.
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