Research has shown that regular physical activity can help reduce pain, swelling and stiffness of arthritis. However, it has been reported that a majority of 46 million arthritis sufferers in the United States are not getting enough - or any - exercise.
These findings coming out of Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine show that only 13 percent of men and 8 percent of women afflicted with various forms of arthritis meet federal guidelines of 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity, low-impact activity per week.
Either these people are not aware of benefits of physical activity, or they are afraid it will exacerbate their symptoms. However, a well-planned exercise program will bring them a measure of comfort and relief from some, if not all, of the pain and stiffness.
Exercise will benefit arthritis sufferers in a couple of ways.
1) It will help maintain a normal range of movement, improve muscle strength and flexibility, and keep bones and all the tissue around them stronger.
2) Another major benefit of regular exercise is that it will help with weight loss and maintenance. This is very important because according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 66 percent of adult arthritis patients in the U.S. are overweight or obese.
Obesity is a known risk factor in the onset of arthritis and the subsequent deterioration of this condition. That's because carrying the extra weight strains and tears the joints, so maintaining a healthy weight is a must - not only for arthritis relief, but also for prevention of heart disease and diabetes.
This call to action is all the more pressing because CDC says that, by 2030, an estimated 67 million Americans adults will likely have some form of arthritis - 20 million more people than currently.
For arthritis sufferers who have been inactive but want to start exercising, I highly recommend they get their doctor's permission first. Then, ask a fitness professional to create a program especially for you, taking into account the type of arthritis you suffer from, which joints are impacted, and the amount of inflammation you have. Working with a certified trainer ensures that your program is not only effective, but also safe.
If you are an arthritis sufferer looking to workout, your exercise program should include flexibility AND strength training exercises. Flexibility exercises will increase your ability to move your joints through their full range. Strength training will build strong muscles that help support and protect the joints. There are numerous exercises that can reduce your pain and stiffness, and improve your overall fitness level at the same time.
Remember this...arthritis is like a rusty hinge on a door. As long as you keep opening and closing that door frequently enough, those rusty hinges will work. If you let that door sit in an idle position too long, those hinges will rust up even further and possibly cease working all together. Protect your joints from further rust up...keep moving!