Taking care of your joint health should be a priority, especially when you hear about the millions of people living with arthritis. Arthritis is really a term used to describe a lot of joint pain or joint diseases. There are in fact over 100 different types of arthritis and related conditions. What people need to know is that in many cases lifestyle adjustments and exercise can go a long way in improving the health of your joints.
People of all ages and backgrounds get arthritis. In fact, arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States. An overwhelming 50 million adults and around 300,000 children do have some kind of arthritis. It is true that it happens more often among the elderly, but the more you know about the condition the better prepared you will be to prevent it, as well as improve your condition if you are ever diagnosed with arthritis.
Living with arthritis does not mean that everything stops. Your joint health can be improved or, at the very least, you can prevent further deterioration of the joints by still participating in physical activities. The following exercises for arthritis are what you would call low-key fitness, but they can make a difference. There are also some general tips for arthritis listed here that many people with the condition have found helpful.
Play video games: Today there are gaming systems that get you off the couch. You can play tennis, baseball, and boxing games. Studies show some of these games can burn calories faster than a brisk walk.
Walk the dog: A dog is the perfect motivation for walking every day. The pet needs to burn energy and you need to keep your joints flexible and your muscles strong.
Wash the car: Washing the car means you can get a workout and a shiny vehicle at the same time. Scrubbing and walking around the car is good for the joints.
Make a play date: Get together with some friends and participate in a physical activity together.
Carry groceries. The shopping cart can be a crutch, so instead grab a basket and carry your groceries. The weight adds intensity to walking and helps build strength.
Clean the house: Avoiding this chore is a mistake. Washing windows, hanging laundry, and cleaning the bathroom all count as moderate exercise.
Dance through chores: Some chores do little to raise your heart rate, so when you have to empty the dishwasher, dust, or cook, why not dance around while you do it and get some good exercise?
Get busy in the garden. A rake or shovel can increase your heart rate, improve joint flexibility, and improve muscle strength.
Hike or ride a bike: If stores, the library, or park are close enough, hike or ride a bike to get there. It will be easy on your joints.
Use stairs: Whenever possible, avoid elevators or escalators and take the stairs.
Park in last spot: When at the mall, office, or market, try parking in the spot farthest from the entrance. Walking is one of the best forms of exercise for arthritis.
Take a class: You can learn a new activity like how to golf or dance salsa.
Make cooking easier: Reorganize the kitchen so that cooking essentials are between shoulder and thigh height. Also, make the counter thigh height since it makes stirring and rolling dough easier.
Open cans and jars. Consider investing in an electric can or jar opener.
Get out of bed easier: Roll onto one side and let your feet over the edge then push up with your torso. Some people install grab bars near their bed to make it easier to get up.
Dress without stress: Wear slip-on clothes instead of clothes that require pulling over the head. Put larger pulls on zippers to make it easier to grasp and choose raglan style sleeves over tailored sleeves. Many people with arthritis find avoiding clothing with buttons is a good idea.
There are exercises that can be too vigorous for those who suffer from arthritis, but they need not be discouraged because there are plenty of other options to consider. For instance, there is the “chair stand” exercise. What you do is avoid flopping down in a chair. Instead, focus on controlling the motion, using your arms to assist you. Repeat the motion of sitting and standing 10 to 15 times. Some people who feel it is too easy, lower the height of their chair.
Here are some other easy arthritis exercises:
Yoga – This can promote a healthy immune system and reduce joint inflammation. The gentle stretching can be good for maintaining movement.
Pilates – This form of exercise helps stabilize your joints and strengthen muscles that support joints.
Water workout – The buoyancy of water can relieve pressure on the joints.
Tai chi – This involves slow, smooth movements that can strengthen the body, improve movement, and reduce arthritis pain. Twenty to 40 minutes of tai chi is a good average for most people with arthritis, but consult with a doctor to make sure.
Hand stretch – With this exercise, you simply spread your fingers as wide as they will go and then make a fist. Repeat the stretching and squeezing motion several times. If you are in the water, you can do this exercise, too. Open and close your hands under water or try squeezing a foam ball. Let the ball absorb water and squeeze it out.
Zumba – This is a Latin-inspired dance/fitness exercise that burns calories and stretches the muscles, but without being too hard on the joints. Most who have tried Zumba say it doesn’t take much time to learn the choreography.
These tips for arthritis are meant to get you moving in a safe way. If you are unsure about what exercise is best for your condition, talk to your family doctor or rheumatologist first. Also, keep in mind when you are new to an exercise you don’t have to do everything all at once. It is okay to do exercises in 10-minute spurts.
Arthritis comes along with an extensive list of symptoms, including swelling, pain, stiffness, and decreased motion. An arthritis diagnosis is scary for people who are used to really active lives, but the arthritis tips we’ve provided should give these people a chance to assess how they can continue to be active and improve their joint health.