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Why and How You Should Exercise With Arthritis

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Why and How You Should Exercise With Arthritis

Arthritis can be challenging, as it often brings discomfort, pain, and limited mobility. However, regular exercise can play a role in managing arthritis symptoms and improving overall joint health. 

While engaging in physical activity when experiencing joint pain may seem counterintuitive, the right exercises can provide numerous benefits.

Here’s a closer look at why exercise is essential for arthritis management and how to exercise safely and effectively, courtesy of our Lakeshore Pain and Spine Center team.

Why you should exercise if you have arthritis 

Exercise provides numerous benefits for your mind and body. Exercise boosts your mood, helps you maintain a healthy weight, and improves cardiovascular function. If you have arthritis, regular physical activity can:

Provide pain relief

Studies show that exercise can help reduce your pain perception, meaning that regular exercise can help reduce joint pain associated with arthritis. Physical activity increases blood flow to the joints, promoting the delivery of nutrients and oxygen that reduces inflammation and relieves pain.

Improve joint function

Exercise helps maintain and improve your joint function. Moving your joints through their full range of motion can prevent stiffness and enhance flexibility. Strong muscles surrounding the joints also provide better support and stability, reducing the risk of injury.

Help you maintain a healthy weight

Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial for individuals with arthritis in their weight-bearing joints, as excess weight puts additional stress on joints. Exercise helps burn calories and builds muscle, which increases your metabolism and assists in weight management.

Enhance mood and well-being

Regular physical activity releases endorphins, also known as feel-good hormones, which can help improve your mood and overall well-being. It can also combat stress, anxiety, and depression commonly associated with chronic conditions such as arthritis.

How to exercise safely with arthritis

As a board-certified anesthesiology and pain medicine physician, Dr. Bradley Silva understands how important exercise can be for managing arthritis pain. However, before starting any exercise program, it's essential to consult with Dr. Silva, especially if you have severe arthritis or other underlying health conditions. He can provide guidance tailored to your needs and recommend safe and suitable exercises.

In general, these guidelines can help you exercise safely with exercise:

Choose low-impact activities

Select exercises that gently impact your joints. Low-impact activities such as walking, swimming, cycling, water aerobics, and tai chi can help improve cardiovascular fitness, flexibility, and muscle strength without putting excessive strain on your joints. Skip anything high-impact or painful.

Warm up and cool down

Begin each exercise session with a warm-up to increase blood flow to your muscles and joints. Gentle stretching, range-of-motion exercises, or using a heating pad can help warm up your joints. Similarly, finish your workout with a cool-down period, including gentle stretches, to prevent stiffness.

Modify and pace yourself

Listen to your body and modify exercises to suit your comfort level. If an activity causes pain or discomfort, adapt or try a different activity. Start slowly and gradually increase the duration and intensity of your workouts to avoid overexertion and joint strain.

If you experience persistent joint pain or swelling, it's essential to rest and seek guidance from our team here in Kenosha, Wisconsin. We can also help determine if any modifications or adjustments are necessary.

Try strengthening exercises

Incorporate 2-3 strength training sessions into your weekly routine to build muscle and support your joints. The Arthritis Foundation recommends sessions last between 20 and 30 minutes.

Focus on proper form and technique and use light weights or resistance bands. Avoid exercises that involve repetitive joint movements or excessive stress on the joints.

Balance flexibility and aerobic exercise

While aerobic exercises like walking or swimming are beneficial, don't forget to include stretching and flexibility exercises. Stretching can improve joint mobility and flexibility, reducing your risk of injury and enhancing overall physical function.

Need help managing your arthritis pain?

Although living with arthritis poses unique challenges, regular exercise is invaluable for managing the condition effectively. Engaging in correct exercises benefits you with pain relief, improved joint function, weight management, and enhanced overall well-being. 

However, lifestyle modifications, like exercise, aren’t always enough to ease your symptoms. If you need help managing arthritis, don’t hesitate to contact us. In addition to guidance for lifestyle modifications, Dr. Silva may also recommend: 

  • Medication management
  • Physical therapy
  • Interventional pain procedures 
  • Psychological therapy
  • Surgery

To get the relief you need, call us at 262-484-4035 or request an appointment online