Arthritis, a condition which currently affects 46,000,000 Americans, can have crippling effects that make even daily tasks such as dressing painful. Swollen joints, stiffness, and chronic aches often discourage arthritis sufferers from movement. Surprisingly though, the key to easing arthritis pain is often found not in sitting still, but in exercising.
Of course, not all exercises are appropriate for individuals suffering from joint pain. Running, jumping, high-impact aerobics, and repetitive activities may worsen, rather than improve, arthritis pain. Low-impact exercises that focus on stretching, increasing range of motion, and building muscle without adding stress to inflamed joints can be highly beneficial.
Exercises That Heal, Rather Than Harm
So if a senior loved one in your life suffers from arthritis pain, what exercises may be appropriate? Consider the following four types of exercises:
- Warm-water exercises. Water aerobics, walking in water, and swimming are often beneficial activities for arthritis sufferers. Since water offers approximately 12 times the resistance of air, an aquatic workout can be effective in helping older ones build muscle. Exercising in warm water can increase circulation, lessen joint pain, and decrease stiffness without adding additional stress to swollen joints. Consider visiting your local senior center, gym, or YMCA for information on warm-water exercise programs.
- Walking. Walking regularly can improve cardiovascular health, build endurance, and strengthen muscles so that less pressure is placed upon inflamed joints. Individuals who develop a regular program of walking 3 to 5 times a week also often experience improved sleep, weight loss, and lowered stress levels.
- Stationary bicycling. Exercising with an indoor stationary bicycle can be good option for individuals suffering from arthritis, since cycling does not place stress upon weight bearing joints, and yet still provides an effective cardiovascular workout. Arthritis sufferers should be careful to spend an appropriate amount of time warming up, however, before they begin to add resistance to the pedals.
- Range of motion and stretching exercises. These exercises, which are incorporated in activities such as yoga and Tai chi, can help to increase flexibility and therefore reduce the risk of joint injury. They also serve as effective warm-up exercises for activities such as walking or biking, and, if done in the morning, can reduce joint stiffness throughout the day. Range of motion and stretching exercises can be done either in the water or on land.
For more information, and a listing of programs available in the Houston area please visit www.arthritis.org
Before starting your loved one on an exercise regimen, however, be sure to consult his or her doctor. Additionally, if your family member engages in exercises that cause pain that lingers for more than an hour afterward, you may wish to discuss the matter with a physician.
We hope this was helpful. If you have any questions or if you know of a senior that could benefit from our vast array of home care services in Houston, please call us at 832 379-4700 or email us. We accept most long term care insurance as payment and have a full time staff supervising more than 100 quality-trained home care personnel covering the Houston, Texas area.
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- Knee and Hip Exercises for Osteoarthritis (webmd.com)
- Know The Diet And Exercise For Rheumatoid Arthritis (after50health.com)