“A Balanced diet with a Balanced exercise is a Healthy lifestyle”
There is a good relationship between exercise and arthritis. It was thought that arthritis patients should not exercise because it would further damage the joints. But research has shown that an exercise is an essential tool for managing arthritis. Exercise promotes overall health and fitness of the body. It by giving more energy, helping to sleep better, controlling body weight, decreasing depression, and giving more self-esteem. Some of these benefits are due to certain chemicals produced by the body( Endorphins). It is said that prolonged and severe exercise can be addictive in the long run and that is attributed to these endorphins. Furthermore, exercise can help stave off other health problems such as osteoporosis and heart disease.
Starting an exercise program can seem like a daunting proposition. The important thing to remember is to start slow, do it at your own pace and listen to the body.
Moving joints daily helps to keep them fully mobile. Joint movement transports nutrients and waste products to and from the cartilage, which protects and cushions the ends of the bones.
Types of Exercises for Arthritis:
Range-of-motion exercises are gentle stretching exercises that aim to move each joint through their normal maximum range of motion. These exercises need to be done daily to keep joints fully mobile and prevent stiffness and deformities. Our ancient ‘Yogaasan & Suryanamaskar’ postures essentially are a form of ROM exercises. It is interesting to note that yoga asanas are not linked to the production of endorphins.
Range-of-motion exercises are important for arthritis patients who — because of intense or chronic pain — shy away from moving their joints through their full range. Normal daily activities, such as housework, dressing, bathing, and cooking are not a substitute for range-of-motion exercises.
Strengthening exercises help increase muscle strength. Strong muscles support the joints — making the joints more stable and helping you move more easily and with less pain. The two types of strengthening exercises are isometric and isotonic.
- Isometric exercises involve tightening the muscles, without moving the joints. These exercises are especially useful when joint movement is either impaired or painful
- Isotonic exercises involve strengthening the muscles by moving the joints.
Endurance exercises are physical activities that bring your heart rate up to your optimal target level for at least 20 to 30 minutes. Your target heart rate is computed based on age and physical condition. By raising the heart rate, endurance exercises improve cardiovascular fitness. Endurance exercises should be performed at least three times a week to build on their effectiveness.
Not all arthritis patients can perform endurance exercises. For example, patients with long-term rheumatoid arthritis who have severe joint damage and functional limitations may not be able to do this type of activity. Endurance exercises for arthritis patients need to be chosen carefully to avoid joint injury.
You can discuss your requirements and goals with a doctor or a professional trainer before starting a programme. Some exercises may not be suitable for you, especially when joints are swollen and inflamed. The amount and type of exercise recommended for each individual will vary depending on the type and severity of arthritis, either the leg or upper limb joints involved, whether the joints are stable or not and if the patient had any previous joint surgeries. Some patients may have other physical limitations.
Balanced exercise is an important part of Healthy Lifestyle. Like a balanced diet contains various food items with different tastes we should choose a balanced exercise programme mixing and trying different types of exercises each time. This is good for the body and avoids monotony for the person. Here are some exercise options for people with arthritis:
- Walking can be an excellent exercise choice. Walking builds strength and aids in bone health(reduces the risk of osteoporosis). Walking on uneven surfaces may give joint pains.
- Yoga movements provide pain relief, relax stiff muscles and ease sore joints. With controlled movements, pressures and stretches yoga can improve range of motion. When the disease is active avoid excess torque or pressure on the joints. Practice deep breathing relaxation at that time.
- Warm water pool is good to ease stiff joints and relax sore muscles. The water floats the body. So there is only a little weight on the leg joints which can be moved easily through their full range without any pain. One does not need to know swimming to go into the pool. Walking in the water with water up to waist is a very good exercise.
- Cycling, both indoor and outdoor, may provide a good low impact exercise option. Cycling can be done outdoors or with a stationary one. Cycling equipment can be adjusted and adapted to many physical limitations.
To obtain the maximum benefit from an exercise program:
- Be consistent.Exercise should be performed daily or at least at regular intervals.
- Build up gradually.The best exercise program is one which begins at a low intensity and builds up gradually as symptoms permit. Too much exercise, especially initially, can worsen symptoms.
- Exercise when symptoms are least distressing.The best time to exercise is when pain and stiffness are at a minimum. Start exercising after morning stiffness subsides or after a warm bath. Some prefer exercising in the evening but for some, it may be difficult to exercise late in the day as they may get tired by the end of the day.
- Do not overdo.Strengthening and range-of-motion exercises are better done in groups with a set number of repetitions which you can tolerate. The number of repetitions is dependent on how well you feel. Too much activity, especially during a flare, can aggravate or worsen symptoms.
- Listen to body signals.A certain amount of discomfort during exercise is acceptable and expected. If pain lasts two hours or more after exercise, the body is signaling that the exercise session was too strenuous. Fewer repetitions should be performed until symptoms subside.
- If the joint feels hot, avoid exercise.Exercise can worsen swollen, tender, or warm joints. Modify your activity until arthritis symptoms are once again under control.
- Set realistic goals.Begin the exercise program with reasonable goals and the determination to gradually increase over time. Too much, too soon can be harmful.
- Smooth, steady rhythm.Exercising and breathing should be coordinated. Avoid bouncing or jerky motions which can add stress to joints. Exercise in a smooth, steady rhythm and relax between repetitions.
- Alternate rest with activity.While activity is important in maintaining healthy joints, so is getting the appropriate amount of rest.
Healthy Joint Club says:
You can discuss with a physiotherapist regarding the type and intensity of your exercise. A physiotherapist can help you develop an exercise program that fits your specific needs. You need to know proper techniques and precautions when performing certain types of exercises. You can discuss how to perform daily activities without putting additional stress on your joints and can get advice on splints or assistive devices that can make working out more comfortable.