Arthritis and Exercise. What can I do?

Arthritis and Exercise. What can I do?

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I am lucky enough to work at BJC Health where our mission is to create best care for those with Arthritis.

A common question from our clients is “Should I exercise now that I have arthritis? And if so, what type and how much is good for me?”

Fortunately, the answer to this question is a resounding YES!

Extensive research suggests that exercising correctly has many benefits for those with arthritis.

Although it is a degenerative condition, targeted and specific exercise offers a way we can potentially slow the process down and keep our patients best able to do the things they want to do.

You may have heard that non weight-bearing exercise such as aqua aerobics and swimming are actually best for those in arthritis.

This really depends on the individual.

The time of diagnosis, severity of symptoms and goals of the individual all need to be considered before designing an exercise plan. Whilst we are always trying to preserve the integrity of the joint, I have still worked with many clients who have been able to keep up with their weekly tennis match or bush walk.

Strengthening exercises which target key muscle groups surrounding the affected joint can offer huge benefits.

Using knee osteoarthritis as an example, strengthening the quads and gluteals in functional movements can greatly improve an individual’s ability to get up and down stairs or walk home from the shops. Both movements are critical in day to day function.

Enhancing particular activation patterns can also relieve pain and make moving around easier.

It has recently been identified that achieving a weight loss of only 5 pounds can reduce forces going though the knee joint by 50%. Exercise that targets weight loss can have a positive impact on arthritis, largely by decreasing the forces experienced by our weight bearing joints. Carrying 5-10kg less bodyweight can mean getting through the day is much easier, as well as having happier hips, knees and ankles.

In summary, exercise is a great idea for those with arthritis. However, care needs to be taken when developing an appropriate plan as each individual symptomology and situation is different.

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