When you’re suffering from arthritis, exercise can be the last thing you want to do. However, it’s crucial to strengthen the muscles around your joints, maintain flexibility & bone strength and improve your energy levels. The different exercises that help with arthritis can be broken done into three key sections: a range of motion exercises, strengthening exercises and aerobic exercises.
Below we’ll discuss the benefits of each and some simple moves for each. Before beginning any new exercise routine however, you should consult your doctor and remember to stop if you feel any pain.
Range of Motion Exercises
“Range of motion” exercises involve moving your joints through their normal range of movements. This decreases stiffness and increases mobility. This is important as many arthritis sufferers keep their affected joints bent to increase comfort, which can have a negative impact on their ability to complete daily activities.
These movements involve stretching, bending and gently rotating your joints. For example, those with arthritis in their hands should extend and curl their fingers, bend their wrists and stretch their thumbs. As these are mild exercises, they can be done every day.
Strengthening exercises work by building strong muscles, which in turn support and protect your joints. These can be done every other day, however, if your joints are sore or inflamed take as many days off as needed. It is recommended that people with arthritis use lighter weights and focus on repetitions rather than on the amount being lifted. A goal to aim for would be three sets of 15 repetitions for each exercise.
This means that you complete the exercise 15 times and then take a small break before beginning again. If your hands have difficulty holding dumbbells try resistance bands, which are strong elastic bands that lie across your palms, or bodyweight exercises. Some strengthening exercise ideas include:
Chair Squats – Strengthening exercise for knees.
1. Place a kitchen chair behind you.
2. Stand with your feet parallel and shoulder-distance apart.
3. Extend your arms straight in front of you, with your hands level with your shoulders.
4. Slowly bend at the hips and lower yourself until you lightly touch the chair. (As you will be repeating this, if you find the chair is too far away, simply lower yourself as far as you can.)
5. Push through your heels to return to a standing position.
6. Repeat up to 10 times. As you get stronger, you may wish to add more sets.
Twofold Row – Strengthening exercises for back and triceps.
1. Place feet hip-width apart with left foot in front of your right.
2. Put a resistance band under your front foot and grip one end in each hand. Your arms should be by your sides.
3. Bend your arms, pulling your elbows up and backwards.
4. Squeeze your shoulder blades toward your spine.
5. Lower arms and repeat.
Aerobic exercises also offer several health benefits as such activity can help to improve your energy levels, boost your mood and increase bone density. They improve your overall health, which in turn can have a positive impact on your arthritis. Stick with low impact exercises such as walking or swimming to see results without putting pressure on your joints.
If you haven’t exercised in a while, start small and slowly build your way up to 30 minutes. If long walks prove difficult, try dividing them into three ten minute walks a day. Bring a friend for support and make it a social occasion or listen to your favourite music to make the time fly by.
Find these workouts effective? Do let us know how you get on!