Arthritis Exercises

When you’re struggling with arthritis and joint pain, getting exercise can seem like a real challenge. It’s important to remember that the right kind of exercise can help alleviate your arthritis pain while strengthening the muscles around your joints. In addition, exercise gives you an endorphin rush, which increases your overall feeling of wellbeing. Read on for the answers to some common questions about exercising with arthritis.

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What can I do at the gym if I have arthritis?


Spinning (or using any kind of stationary bicycle) can be a great activity if you have arthritis. Most gyms have several different kinds of stationary bikes. Spinning bicycles are very similar to regular bicycles and require you to bend over the handlebars and put a bit of pressure on your hands and wrists. This can be difficult if your wrist or hand joints are affected by arthritis. If this applies to you, you may want to try a recumbent stationary bicycle. These bikes allow you to lie back in the seat, taking the pressure off other parts of your body while still giving you a good cardiovascular workout.

You can also explore some gentle weight lifting at the gym. It may be useful to enlist the help of a personal trainer if you're unfamiliar with weights. Pick small weights, and don't grip them too tightly. Opt for many repetitions with a lighter weight rather than a few repetitions with a heavier weight. Proper weight lifting can stabilize joints by strengthening the muscles around them.


Is swimming a good exercise for people with arthritis?


Absolutely! Being in the water takes a lot of pressure away from your joints. The resistance provided by the water gives you a good full body workout. If you need to brush up on your swimming skills, consider taking some lessons.

Don't limit yourself to swimming alone! If you enjoy being in the water, try an aqua aerobics class. You'll learn how to work out in the water with various weights and other pieces of equipment, and you'll get to do it in the company of others.


Is walking a good exercise for me if I have arthritis?


In most cases, moderate walking on a flat surface is just fine for people who have arthritis, as long as it doesn't cause significant pain. Make sure you wear shoes that fully support you. Avoid speeding up to a running pace - running is hard on the knee joints, especially if you have arthritis.


Can I exercise with arthritis?


In most cases, the answer is yes! Check with your doctor before you begin a new exercise regime, just to make sure you understand any limitations you might have. Your doctor may tell you to avoid certain movements or ask you to stop exercising if you feel pain in specific joints. In general, the key to exercising with arthritis is to listen to your body. Learn which feelings are indications that you should stop or slow down, and which feelings are just stiffness that will loosen up once you get moving.


What is a group exercise that's good for people with arthritis?


Tai Chi is an excellent choice if you're looking for a group activity that's gentle and suitable for all fitness levels. This Chinese martial art has slow, flowing movements that help build strength, flexibility, and balance. You don't need any equipment to practice Tai Chi, so you can do it anywhere! You'll even find classes that meet outside.


Should I try yoga or pilates?


There are many different types of yoga, some more gentle than others. If you're interested in giving yoga a try, speak to the instructor first to find out how difficult the class is. Even some beginner classes are challenging. If you're new to yoga, avoid Ashtanga or Bikram. Hatha or Iyengar are gentler choices. Whichever class you choose, let your instructor know about any physical limitations you have, and he or she can help you adjust the poses to make them work for you. Never remain in a pose that hurts.


Why is this important?


Arthritis is something that most of us will deal with at some point in our lifetimes. It doesn't need to be a reason to stop exercising. With the right approach, people with arthritis can continue reaping the benefits of moderate exercise even when arthritis flares up and gets in the way.

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