Post provided by American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, more than 50 million adults have some form of arthritis. The most common type is osteoarthritis, also known as “wear and tear” arthritis, which most often affects the weight-bearing joints in the knees, hips, neck and lower back.
Arthritis pain naturally causes most adults to slow down and limit activity. Not exercising, however, can result in more problems. Recent research shows that over time inactivity actually worsens osteoarthritis pain, and puts adults at greater risk for eventual total loss of mobility.
Specific exercises will strengthen the muscles that surround your joints. The stronger your muscles are, the more weight they can handle. As a result, the bones in your joints carry less weight, and your damaged cartilage is better protected.
Your doctor will talk to you about the types of exercises that would be best for you, depending on the severity of your arthritis. They may recommend a physical therapist to design an exercise program to meet your specific needs and safely get you moving again.
Your program should include three types of exercises:
- Range-of-motion exercises to improve your flexibility and reduce stiffness in your joints.
- Strengthening exercises to help build muscle mass and protect your joints.
- Aerobic exercise to strengthen your heart and lungs and improve your overall fitness. Aerobic exercise is key to controlling your weight, as well.
Typically, doctors recommend a moderate, balanced fitness program. If you regularly do high-impact aerobic exercises, such as running or competitive sports, your doctor may recommend that you switch to low-impact activities that place less stress on your weight-bearing joints. Walking, swimming, and cycling are good alternatives.