As most people know, exercise is important for a number of reasons. Regular exercise helps to control weight, prevent health conditions, maintain muscle mass, improve mood, and boost energy levels… Quite simply, the benefits appear endless. If that’s the case, then why doesn’t everybody exercise? Well, for the majority of the population, the answers result from a host of justifications. What about those who want to stay active but must also account for a physical limitation?
We’ll stay away from all the “blessings in disguise” associated with aging, but let’s consider the possibility of developing a condition such as arthritis. This joint-crippling condition occurs when cartilage between adjacent bones begins to deteriorate. Your cartilage acts as a preinstalled cushion between joints and also provides natural lubrication, reducing friction and allowing for smooth movement. Cartilage can break down due to a number of causes, such as autoimmune diseases, infections, general wear on joints, and even broken bones. The symptoms of arthritis don’t appear much better. Take a look: stiffness, joint pain, reduced range of motion, joint swelling, and reddening of the skin around the joint.
For very obvious reasons, it seems like exercise is the last thing someone with arthritis would want to subject their body to. But don’t lose hope yet; there are many low impact exercise modalities which can appeal to a variety of individuals combating arthritis. Also, exercise has been proven to help those with arthritis relieve pain, gain muscle, see a higher range of mobility in their joints and see an increase in their strength. But let’s get to some of the best options recommended by professional doctors!
For individuals who enjoy exercising in the sanctity of their own homes, a great low impact exercise machine is the stationary bike. These bikes are easy and convenient to use and many stationary bikes allow the user to adjust resistance settings, allowing for progression and goal setting over time.
Other forms of beneficial exercise for those with arthritis are swimming and aqua jogging. Water is approximately 784 times more dense than air, meaning it provides increased resistance while simultaneously reducing impact stress because of the body’s natural buoyancy. Once you’ve mastered the shallow end, move into deep water with a flotation belt, for a more intense water walking challenge!
Not a fan biking or water exercises and are looking for a more flavorful, social routine, try some dance classes, like salsa or the evermore popular, Zumba. Dance is a fantastic way to loosen up joints and ease the pain of arthritis. It has also been proven to lift spirits and decrease depression in many participants.