When you have an arthritic flare up, or you’re feeling stiff and in pain, exercising may be the last thing on your mind. But keeping your joints moving and staying active is one of the best ways to help arthritis pain and stay healthy. Stick to low-impact exercises and low-intensity activities that are joint friendly to help stave off arthritis symptoms like joint pain and stiffness.
Health care providers and the arthritis foundation have suggested a number of physical activities and strengthening exercises that can help improve the quality of life for those suffering with all types of arthritis. Building a safe excess routine focused on managing arthritis pain is one of the best ways to keep fit and get pain relief during flare ups.
Here are 8 of the best exercises that focus on low intensity muscle strength training, gentle aerobic exercise, range-of-motion exercises and joint friendly aerobic activities for those with arthritis.
Water Exercise and Swimming:Water exercises like water aerobics, swimming and water walking are some of the best arthritis exercises. Moving in water causes 75% less impact on your joints, meaning you can still get the cardiovascular benefits of walking or aerobics without straining knees, elbows, hips or other joints. Stand or walk in waist-deep water to get all the benefits of these types of exercises without the negative strain.
Physical therapists and rehab therapists often use water exercise plans to help with recovery and strength training after an injury or joint replacement. Low impact aerobics are much easier in water, and fall risk is also diminished if you are working out in a pool, making it an ideal type of exercise for seniors.
WalkingGoing for a walk can help strengthen muscle and reduce stress. regular exercise doesn’t have to be complicated. Simply going for a walk can offer great benefits of exercise such as increasing heart rate, helping with mobility - especially in your joints - and helping to lower blood pressure.
Walking outside is a great option for anyone with arthritis pain, and it can easily be worked into your daily routine. If you live in an area where weather may prevent you from being outside, a treadmill is a great option as well. A treadmill allows you to workout at a stead, controlled pace regardless of weather. It also allows a supervisor of advisor to assist you, if needed, if you are just beginning a new exercise program.
An elliptical machine is another workout tool that is a great way to exercise while providing less stress to the body. The gliding, fluid motion of the machine means it is easier on joints. The elliptical is also a good way to increase your range of motion and keep hips and arm joints supple and moving freely. You can go at your own pace, too. Start slowly, and for short periods of time until you are more used to the movement. Your body will get the benefits of cardio and mobility without putting too much strain on arthritic areas.
YogaYoga is a great way to stretch and strengthen arthritis affected joints. Yoga classes can range greatly in difficulty and intention, though, so be sure to start with gentle, slow paced classes that work on stretching and strengthening, so you do not strain any arthritic areas. Yoga has been known to help with rheumatoid arthritis. Just be sure to adjust or adapt any poses that feel too difficult, or start with chair yoga if balance and mobility are an issue.
Tai ChiLike yoga, Tai Chi is excellent for arthritis pain, but also has a mindful stress reducing quality as well. Tai Chi focuses on slow, intentional motions that help improve range of motion and flexibility. The gradual flowing nature of the movements and poses makes it especially good for those dealing with stiffness and joint pain.
GolfGolf works the upper back, wrists and hands, shoulders and even legs. The swinging motion will warm up your joints and muscles. Moving the areas where arthritis pain builds is a good way to reduce stiffness and keep joints moving. Golf is also a very social event, which helps relieve pain simply by being a distraction and a chance to spend time with peers or friends. Be careful not to over strain yourself, though, so be aware of any extra pain areas.
ShuffleboardShuffleboard is another fun way to keep moving and work joints and muscles that may be affected by arthritis. The pushing motion of pushing the puck requires balance and strength, but is still a low impact movement. Older adults and those with arthritis pain can participate in this fun competition game without feeling overly taxed or strained.
Lawn BowlingLawn bowling, or bocce ball, is a popular sport among seniors, and similarly is a good fun option for those with arthritis. Movements and mobility required are both minimal ,aside from wrist and hand movements which can be good hand exercises depending on the severity of your arthritis. Participating in an exercise that is also social and fun can help distract from pain. It is easier to continue to exercise if you are playing a game and not just working out.
Remember, before starting a new exercise routine, it is important to seek medical advice to ensure you are exercising or stretching safely. If any of these activities feel painful or you are pushing your joints too hard, scale back or take a break to prevent any further pain or damage.
Above all, moving your body in gentle ways is a great way to maintain mobility and movement in your joints without putting excess strain or impact on your joints.