Exercises that can help ease arthritis pain

Published 11:44am Friday, March 23, 2012

Dear Savvy Senior,
Can exercise help seniors with arthritis? I have osteoarthritis and have read that certain exercises can help ease the pain, but I don’t know where to start, and I certainly don’t want to make it any worse than it already is. What can you tell me?
~ Sedentary Sally

Dear Sally,
Lots of seniors who have arthritis believe that exercise will worsen their condition, but that’s not true. Study after study has shown that exercise is actually one of the best treatments for osteoarthritis.
Proper and careful exercises can help reduce joint pain and stiffness, strengthen muscles around the joints and increase flexibility. It also helps manage other chronic conditions that are common among seniors with arthritis, such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Here are some tips to help you get moving.
Exercises for Arthritis
Determining exactly which types of exercises are best for you, depends on the form and severity of your arthritis, and which joints are involved. It’s best to work with your doctor or a physical therapist to help you develop an exercise program that works for you. The different types of exercises that are most often recommended to seniors with arthritis include:
• Range-of-motion exercises: These are gentle stretching exercises that can relieve stiffness, as well as improve your ability to move your joints through their normal range of motion. These exercises should be done daily.
• Strengthening exercise: Calisthenics, weight training and working with resistance bands are recommended (two or more days a week) to maintain and improve your muscle strength, which helps support and protect your joints.
• Aerobic exercises: Low-impact activities like walking, cycling, swimming or water aerobics are all recommended three to five times per week to help improve cardiovascular health, control weight, and improve your overall function.

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