Exercising with Arthritis
An object in motion stays in motion. – Newton’s first law.
Most arthritis sufferers believe that exercising will only exacerbate their painful and stiff joints. However, the reality is quite the opposite. In fact, by not exercising, you’re allowing your muscles and surrounding tissues to become weak, thus creating more stress on your joints.
While it may seem cumbersome at first, exercise can actually help ease the pain and stiffness that comes with arthritis. And you don’t have to run a marathon to feel the relief. Moderate exercise can keep you mobile and ease the pain you’re experiencing in your joints.
We’ve compiled a list of exercises that are perfect for individuals with arthritis, and you can do them from the comfort of your own home.
Exercises to Increase Your Range of Motion
Relieve stiff joints and bring about more flexibility and use with these daily exercises:
For shoulders: Roll your shoulders backward and forward together and in rotation.
For arms: Practice slowly raising your arms over your head and lowering them.
For hips: While standing, bend your knee back while trying to touch your bottom with your heel – you can use a counter or desk for support.
Exercises to Strengthen Your Muscles for Joint Support
Strong muscles are critical in supporting and protecting your joints. You build strong muscles with regular exercise, even if just for a few minutes a day. Try practicing these workouts every other day:
For upper strength: While sitting in a chair or at the table, hold a weight in one hand. With your elbow bent at a 45° angle, slowly lower the weight down, then lift it back up towards your arm.
If you’re just beginning, grab a can from your pantry to use as a weight. It may not seem like much, but regular use will build up your muscle strength.
For lower strength: Lie on your side on the floor or bed, keeping the leg against the floor straight. Prop your upper body up by your forearm. With your other leg, bend at the knee and cross it over the leg against the floor, placing your foot firmly on the floor. Slowly lift your straight leg up and down about 6-8” off the ground.
Exercises to Improve Your Overall Fitness
Aerobic exercises will provide you with more stamina and energy, and they can improve your overall cardiovascular health as well. Aerobic exercises that are low-impact are much easier on your joints, and you only need about 10 minutes a day to feel the positive effects. Here are some low-impact aerobic exercises you can try:
- Go for a walk
- Take a bike ride or ride a stationary bike
- Exercise on an elliptical machine
If you have a pool or have access to one, water aerobics is a wonderful way to keep low-impact while getting in the exercise your body needs to help relieve the symptoms of arthritis. It’s a great alternative for those with Rheumatoid Arthritis as well as it cushions the joints!
Whatever you do, don’t push yourself too hard too soon. Listen to your body. But don’t let that joint pain keep you from doing the things that could actually make it better!
If you’d like more advice or tips on how to exercise with arthritis, give us a call at Elmhurst Extended Care Center. Our dedicated and knowledgeable team is more than happy to answer your questions and advise you on ways you can improve your current condition.