Arthritis. When you exercise, it hurts. When you don’t exercise, it hurts. This widespread issue is affecting people of all different ages and driving these arthritis sufferers right to the couch. It just hurts no matter what, so what should you do? Pick your battles.
I understand that it’s painful and can leave you hesitant to do anything to potentially worsen the ache, but doing nothing at all will certainly not help. In fact, it will make it worse. You cannot let arthritis get in the way of your quality of life.
I’ve spoken with people everywhere along the spectrum, from those in slight pain and avoiding any activity to those who are bone on bone but keep moving along. I am in no way recommending the “no pain, no gain” rule, but I am encouraging you to get active in order to increase the longevity of your joints.
For Arthritis, It’s Better to Stay Active than to “Baby” Your Joints
Your joints will love you so much more if you choose moving over “babying.” Don’t believe me? Check this out: Exercise strengthens the muscles surrounding that arthritic joint, which can reduce pain and improve the joint’s mechanics. It also compresses and releases cartilage, which brings oxygen to the joints.
So, now you’re looking at not only decreased pain and postponing surgery, but you’re also improving your overall health. Plus, if surgery is required, you will drastically speed your recovery. Is this starting to sound like a win-win?
Top 4 Exercise Types for Arthritis
Now you’re wondering, “But what exercises can I do?” There’s a plethora, but before I give you my list, I will tell you the most important factor: alignment, alignment, alignment! Please check with your senior fitness specialist to make sure you’re in a proper alignment while performing exercises. This helps minimize strain on the joints and will make a world of difference! After I correct my own clients’ alignment, they look at me like I’m a miracle worker. (Spoiler alert: I am not.)
Now, on to my list of the top 4 arthritis-friendly exercise modes:
- Low-impact cardio: These heart-happy exercises are easy on the joints and will burn a lot of calories. Popular machines for this include ellipticals, bicycles, and rowing machines.
- Aquatic exercise: Not a great swimmer? No problem! There’s a lot more that you can do in the water. It’s also very kind to your joints. The buoyancy reduces stress on the joints and spine, and provides resistance without equipment.
- Yoga: Yoga is an excellent way to strengthen and lengthen the body. Both are essential in improving alignment, which is critical in taking the strain and stress off of your joints. Try out a class before you pop in a DVD at home. That way, the instructor can see your position and guide you if needed.
- Tai chi: This traditional style of Chinese martial arts includes slow, controlled movements, which put little force on the joints, to improve balance, strength, and flexibility. Like yoga, try a class first to get some feedback from an instructor.
Learn more about arthritis and how to alleviate the symptoms by searching articles at Discovery Health and Lifescript.
This blog was written by Anna Hiple. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.
Swimming has long been a heralded exercise due to the fact that it provides a solid cardiovascular workout while remaining gentle on the joints. The water can provide a stable environment, free from harsh elements, that keeps swimmers from overheating during a workout. These features make swimming attractive to older adults, and new research that shows it can lower blood pressure boosts its stock even more.
The small study, conducted at the University of Texas, found a decrease of almost 10 mm Hg in the systolic blood pressure (the number “on top”) of seniors who had borderline high blood pressure but were not receiving any type of treatment for their condition. As a bonus, researchers also found improved elasticity in the arteries of the participants, which is beneficial for preventing stroke and heart disease. These positive results were exhibited after three to four days per week of various swimming exercises for a total of twelve weeks.
If you’re an older adult seeking a lifestyle change that can help decrease blood pressure or someone simply wanting more variety, consider trying swimming. Or, perhaps you’re looking to get a parent, grandparent, or other loved one involved in an exercise program. Due to swimming's popularity, use of a swimming pool and aquatic programs is offered at many fitness centers associated with senior living communities. Other local fitness centers and community pools may also provide an opportunity to reap the benefits of swimming.