People with arthritis are repeatedly reminded about the importance of exercise as part of disease management. While they understand the need to move joints and muscles, two things seem to get in the way:
They don't know which exercises to include in their exercise regimen.
They don't think they can do enough to matter.
Understandably, to commit to an exercise regimen, you want assurance that you are doing the right thing.
Where can you get that assurance? How should you begin? Here are 5 tips that will get you on the right path and will allow you to commit to your exercise regimen for arthritis.
5 Tips to Get Started
1 - Start with what you know has been recommended. Put your joints through their full range of motion on a daily basis. Range of motion exercise is gentle and appropriate for people with arthritis.
2 - Ask your doctor for a referral to physical therapy or an athletic trainer. A professional will be able to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. By doing so, they will be able to put together a strategy and plan to focus on your weaknesses. This is not something you can do by yourself. It is to your advantage to have someone who is professionally trained conduct your physical evaluation.
3 - Once the professional provides you with an exercise routine or regimen, created with the intent of strengthening your weaknesses. Work with the professional long enough to get in the groove and know that your are performing the exercises properly.
4 - Once you are comfortable with your exercise routine, come away with home exercises that you can continue to do on your own, as well as a gym routine that you may continue privately. This really is the whole point of consulting a professional—to get on the right track and come away with an exercise regimen you can continue indefinitely.
5 - Periodic re-assessment is helpful because your exercise regimen may need adjustment. Depending on whether your strength and range of motion has improved or declined, you may need to add or subtract specific exercises from your routine or change the number of reps and sets.
Why It's Important to Stay Committed
We've discussed how to get on the right track with your exercise regimen but it also requires commitment that must come from you. Here's why you must be committed to the routine.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), our bone, joints, and muscles support the body and help us move.
Healthy bones, joints, and muscles allow us to perform usual daily activities and to be physically active. The CDC has stated, "Research shows that doing aerobic, muscle-strengthening and bone-strengthening physical activity of at least a moderately-intense level can slow the loss of bone density that comes with age. People who do 120 to 300 minutes of at least moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week have a lower risk of hip fracture."
"If you have arthritis, research shows that doing 130 to 150 (2 hours and 10 minutes to 2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate-intensity, low-impact aerobic activity can not only improve your ability to manage pain and do everyday tasks, but it can also make your quality of life better", according to the CDC.
The Bottom Line
Did you find the CDC recommendations daunting? You shouldn't. Your starting point is your current level of activity and physical function. A professional can help you build on that, so that the CDC guidelines are achievable or your own maximum potential is achieved. Start down the path and stick with it!