Federated Health Charities’ mission is to improve the health and quality of life of Ontarians. We believe education and prevention are key parts of this. Check out our latest Health Hint on exercise & arthritis!
What is Arthritis?
Arthritis is characterized by inflammation in the joints but can also affect other areas of the body. Arthritis is a chronic condition. It can affect people over the course of their life and regular exercises are commonly prescribed to manage the symptoms.
Types of Exercises
Arthritis can make exercise a challenge, however, work-outs can help you manage this condition over the long term. The Arthritis Society has many helpful resources to get you started. These 10 exercises can be performed anywhere – you can try them at home or on your break at work. The most important part of arthritis exercise management is to keep your joints moving regularly, even on days when you feel stiff or are having a flare up.
To maintain overall physical health, you will want to incorporate flexibility, strength, and endurance exercises into your schedule. To start off, flexibility exercises improve your range of motion and movement of your joints (and also the elasticity of your muscles). These exercises are helpful if you are suffering from a flare up because they help to reduce stiffness and maintain circulation throughout the affected region. For stretches and range of motion exercises, take a look at the Arthritis Society’s page here (you may need to click on flexibility exercises on the left hand side menu).
Strength exercises increase your muscles’ ability to support and stabilize your joints. Strength exercises have been shown to help increase bone strength as well. You should work out your muscles until they feel tired but not yet shaky. You can try using dumbbells or resistance bands with your legs and arms. Water provides low impact resistance so you can try an aqua aerobics class or swimming in you local community pool.
Endurance exercises are performed for a longer duration of time and improve your heart, lungs, and circulatory system as well as your general stamina. Before you start endurance exercises, make sure you stretch your body. For tips on starting and improving endurance exercise, take a look at the guide here (scroll down on the left hand side and click on the insurance exercise link).
The government of Canada has also published a physical activity guide. This guide is intended to help you determine the kinds of exercise you need to stay healthy, how often you should exercise, and other pertinent information. The government of Canada also has a website where you can learn more about incorporating physical activity into your day.
Remember, the hardest part of exercising is starting! Once you start to overcome the difficulty of learning new exercises and establishing a routine, exercise will start to feel much easier. Take a look at this youtube video for easy movements to add to your schedule. There are many resources available on the Arthritis Society’s website and online in general. Try new things until you find what works for you and improves your movement, balance, and overall physical health.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our latest Health Hint!
Written by Jennifer Nemcik
NOTE: This article is intended to provide general health tips based on available research. You should consult with a health care professional for specific medical and dietary instructions that are right for you.