Can exercise help with arthritis?

Can exercise help with arthritis?


By Dr Tony Setiobudi BMedSci, MBBS, MRCS, MMed (Ortho), FRCS (Ortho)

Almost everyone will experience some form of arthritis as they get older. It occurs when one or more joints become inflamed, causing stiffness and pain that worsen over time. If you suffer from arthritis, moving your body may be the last thing you want to think about.

However, exercising regularly is one of the healthiest ways to reduce arthritis symptoms since exercise increases muscle and bone strength to naturally reduce joint pain.

If you have arthritis, you should understand doing an exercise routine will give you lots of benefits such as:

  • Aiding joint lubrication and nourishment thus easing joint pain and stiffness
  • A better range of motion. Improved joint mobility and flexibility
  • Stronger muscles.
  • Better endurance.
  • Better balance.
  • Improved posture
  • Improve or maintain the density of your bones
  • Lower stress levels
  • Improve your mood
  • Maintain a healthy and body weight

Did you know that there are different types of arthritis and that they all have different causes and symptoms? Going to the doctor can help you get diagnosed and get started on your treatment plan. The doctor would prescribe any necessary anti-inflammatory medications to help manage the pain. Once joint pain and inflammation are under control, your doctor can help you to choose the right exercise for you, which helps to build the muscles around your joints but doesn’t damage the joints themselves.

Here are exercises for arthritis that can help improve your symptoms while also enhancing your overall quality of life.

  1. Low impact aerobics

Low impact aerobic exercises such as walking, swimming, and bicycling, strengthens your heart and lungs and thereby increases endurance and overall health.

  1. Yoga or tai chi

Both yoga and tai chi combine deep breathing, flowing movements, gentle poses, and meditation. They increase flexibility, balance, and range of motion and reducing stress as well.

  1. Stretching

The ideal stretching routine will be different for each person and depend on which joints are affected and what symptoms occur. However, stretches often involve moving joints of knees, hands, and elbows.

  1. Strength training

Strengthening the muscles around the affected joints can help increase strength while reducing pain and other symptoms.

Even though exercise gives you lots of benefits, not all exercises are suitable for people who experience arthritis. People with arthritis should avoid strenuous exercise including high-impact exercises that put excessive strain on the joints. However, each person is different, an activity may cause pain for one person but may not have the same effect on another person. The thing that you should remember is to know your own limits. You should exercise until you feel tired and not push past your limits. The pain that you feel is your body signaling to you that something is wrong and that you should stop.

Request an appointment with us today to learn more about our treatments for rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and many other health conditions. Get further information about the types of exercise most ideal for your arthritis symptoms and overall health.

Dr Tony Setiobudi is an Orthopaedic & Spine Surgeon at Mount Elizabeth Hospital (Orchard), Singapore. He treats bone, joint, muscle and ligament problems in adults and children. He has a special interest in nerve compression and spine problems such as back & neck pain, scoliosis, kyphosis, spine tumor & infection, spinal cord injury, osteoporosis fracture, spinal stenosis and slipped disc.

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