The Importance of Exercise When You Have Arthritis

You may already know that exercise can strengthen the muscles that help protect your joints. But what if you have arthritis? Shouldn’t you avoid causing more joint damage by taking it easy when it comes to exercise? Sort of — but not really.

Dr. Rajeesh B. Dave is a board-certified internist who leads our team at Gulf West Medical Associates in Port Richie, Florida. He’s happy to discuss why exercise is so important when you have arthritis, how to exercise with arthritis, and what you can do to incorporate it into your life.

Why exercise is important when you have arthritis

Many people with arthritis choose to limit their physical activity and exercise due to the joint stiffness and pain associated with arthritis. They mistakenly believe that inactivity helps prevent further damage. But decreased pain tolerance, weak muscles, stiff joints and poor balance associated with many forms of arthritis often worsen with physical inactivity.

Remaining active and adding the right type of exercise to your daily routine is an important part of a comprehensive treatment strategy for arthritis. The many benefits of regular exercise include:

How you exercise matters

It’s important to choose exercise that is tailored to your fitness level, the type of arthritis you have, and which joints are affected. Low-impact activities such as walking, cycling, or swimming are easier on your joints than running and other high-impact activities.

Types of exercise that are beneficial for arthritis include:

At Gulf West Medical Associates, we may recommend you begin therapeutic exercises/physical therapy to address specific joints affected by your arthritis, especially if you have previously been inactive. Otherwise, Dr. Dave also recommends the types of exercises best suited to your circumstance.

Timing and location are key

We recommend you start your day with gentle range-of-motion exercises that ease morning joint stiffness and discomfort. Before you climb out of bed, perform a series of shoulder rolls, elbow movements, and arm raises to work out the stiffness. Try writing the alphabet with your toes as your feet hang off the side of the bed to give your ankles a morning workout.

Otherwise pick a time of day that’s going to make it easy for you commit to an exercise routine, maybe over your lunch hour or right after work. If you don’t have time for a solid 30-45 minutes of exercise, break up your workouts into more manageable sessions, such as three per day, each lasting 10-15 minutes.

Pick a location that suits your style and personality. Exercise at home, walk the mall, or sign up for a community-based aquatic program that’s tailored for individuals with arthritis. Remember too that exercise can include bike rides with family and friends, taking your dog on a brisk walk through the neighborhood, and any number of enjoyable activities that get you moving.

For more information about exercise and other effective treatments for arthritis, schedule a visit with Dr. Dave today. Call the office at 727-848-0247, or book your visit online.

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