Guest Author - Jeanetta Polenske
Research shows that the joint pain and stiffness associated with arthritis might very well benefit from a regular exercise regimen. It helps strengthen muscles around the joints, increases flexibility and aids in reducing inflammation.
For extremely painful joints, water exercise is recommended to start. The support offered by the water relieves stress on hips and knees and allows a gentle workout. In addition, the resistance of water is greater than air, so that the exercise is of greater benefit. You may find even more relaxation by stretching and moving in a hot tub set at a comfortable warm temperature.
Start and end an exercise routine slowly and let the water relax the muscles. Exercise for elbows and shoulders include stretching the arms forward and sideways and doing slow circles. Bend and straighten elbows under the water. Use the same type of movement for ankles, knees, toes and hips. Water walking is a wonderful way to work the hips and knees.
Other more advanced exercises can include walking in your neighborhood, bicycling, swimming, dancing, golf and weight training. Gardening is another great idea to keep those joints flexible without too much strain. There are exercise videos for tai chi and yoga that are designed for people with arthritis. The goal is to find an exercise that works for you and commit to a regular weekly routine.
The benefits of regular exercise for those with arthritis can even be much more than just for joint discomfort. It promotes general health by helping control weight, contributing to more restful sleep, increasing overall energy, relieving depression and helping to ramp up the bodyís ability to fight other health issues. Exercise should include stretching, resistance and aerobic movement as tolerated.
Consult your doctor before starting a program. A physical therapist is also a good resource for learning how to exercise properly for your particular type of arthritis. Let them help you design your own specific regimen and teach you safety as well as the benefits of individual movements.
When joints flare and become swollen and painful, have a gentle routine to help maintain joint movement. Even an exercise like sitting and slowly straightening your knees or extending arms, hands and fingers can keep joints flexible.
Choose activities that can be easily incorporated into your normal day. Call a friend and take a walk or join a local group exercise program. Contact the Arthritis Foundation for exercise programs that you can do on your own or that may be available in your area. Put on your favorite music and get going. Most important, donít forget to have fun while you keep yourself active and healthy.