Why is Exercise Important for Arthritis
Regular physical activity is an essential part of living a healthy lifestyle, regardless of your gender, age, or general health condition. Every expert can agree that at least some form of exercise is non-negotiable if you wish to be a functioning person.
In fact, physical activity can actually improve symptoms in those with painful chronic diseases, including arthritis.
People with arthritis are at higher risk for developing other diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, and exercise is a natural and healthy way of combatting that. Not only can exercise help people with arthritis lower their risk of additional chronic diseases, but it has actually been shown to reduce pain and inflammation associated with arthritis.
Here’s why exercise is important for people with arthritis:
- It helps to maintain a healthy weight, reducing strain on joints
- It strengthens the muscles around the joints
- It improves range of motion
- It helps to build and strengthen bones
- It improves balance
- It enhances quality of life
- It boosts energy levels
- It improves and stabilizes mood
People with arthritis may fear that physical activity will aggravate the joints and lead to a flare-up, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Actually, the lack of movement is what leads to stiff and painful joints.
The average person should be doing 150 minutes of aerobic exercise — also called cardio — per week.
What is Aerobic Exercise?
Aerobic exercise, or cardio, is any exercise that stimulates and strengthens the heart and lungs. In other words, your heart rate will increase and your lungs will work harder during aerobic exercise.
There are many exercises that fall into the category of cardio. Some of them include:
- Brisk walking, jogging, and running
- Ball games (tennis, basketball, football, etc.)
- Jumping rope
In addition to cardio, it is important to also do strength-training 2-3 times per week to strengthen muscles and bones.
There are times when people with arthritis may find it difficult to perform weight-bearing exercises, such as walking. In these cases, it may be worth looking into other exercises that are less demanding on the joints, such as swimming, cycling, or studio workouts designed for those with arthritis. It is possible that once some weight comes off, you will find it easier to walk again.