Is osteoarthritis pain and stiffness discouraging you from exercising or being physically active? Research shows that people with different types of arthritis can benefit from physical activity. Below are answers to common questions about exercising with arthritis.
Why is exercise usually recommended for people with arthritis?
If you have arthritis, benefits of exercise include:
Can exercise make my arthritis worse?
Not exercising could actually make you feel worse because inactivity can cause loss of joint motion, stiffness, and muscle weakness, which can increase feelings of fatigue. Staying active and exercising regularly will not make your arthritis get worse faster, as long as you are not overdoing it.
How can I exercise safely?
1.Get the OK: Ask your doctor or physical therapist about what exercises are best for you and what to avoid
2. Warm up: Begin each exercise session with a warm-up to increase the temperature of muscles and joints. Be sure to stretch, which increases your range of motion and lessens stress on ligaments and joints.
3. Start slow and easy: Have a goal of working up to moderate or vigorous intensity. Use the “talk test” to measure intensity--if you can carry a conversation, you’re exercising at moderate intensity. If you're only able to say a few words before you need to pause for a breath, you’re exercising at vigorous intensity.
4. Be smart during exercise: Stop and rest when you need to. Avoid exercise that is jarring or high-impact, such as running. Walk on flat, level surfaces, particularly if you have ankle, foot, knee, or hip problems.
5. Cool it down: When you are finishing exercising, do a cool- down to bring your heart rate down to a few beats above normal. Your cool- down might involve slowing down the exercises you are doing, lifting light weights, or stretching.
How can I manage pain?
What types of activity are best for people with arthritis?
For the best health, recommendations are that you get, or 75 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity exercise, or an equivalent combination of both. Doing muscle strengthening exercises twice a week at 30-minute increments and balance exercises is also recommended. Short sessions of at least 10 minutes throughout the day every day can add up to big health benefits.
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Benefits of Stationary Biking, Arthritis Foundation:
Exercise and Arthritis, American College of Rheumatology
Exercise for Arthritis, Arthritis Foundation
Handout on Health: Osteoarthritis: National Institute on Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases:
Patient Information: Arthritis and Exercise (Beyond the Basics), UpToDate®:
Stay Active and Exercise – Arthritis, Medline Plus:
Try These Exercises: Go4Life, National Institute on Aging at National Institute on Health:
These articles are not a substitute for medical advice, and are not intended to treat or cure any disease. Advances in medicine may cause this information to become outdated, invalid, or subject to debate. Professional opinions and interpretations of scientific literature may vary. Consult your healthcare professional before making changes to your diet, exercise, or medication regime.