It’s commonly known that exercise can be beneficial for all aspects of our health. From improving general health, maintaining a healthy weight and improving mental health, it can help prevent serious conditions such as strokes and high blood pressure.
But for people with rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and general joint pain, it often feels like it’s not possible to exercise but doing a regular exercise routine can really make a difference to your life.
In this article King Edward VII’s Hospital Rheumatologist, Dr John Outhwaite, explains how not exercising can make your joints worse and offers advice on best exercise for arthritis.
Addressing pain in arthritis
In the UK alone, there are said to be over 10 million people with arthritis or similar conditions that can cause painful joints. While there is no cure for arthritis, there are lifestyle changes and treatments that can help ease your symptoms to help you live life to the fullest.
Rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and joint pain can make every day tasks such as moving, walking and travelling painful. This pain and discomfort can put people off exercising all together.
Dr Outhwaite explains “However, regular exercise can help arthritis sufferers to increase strength and flexibility, improve range of movement and mobility of joints and reduce stiffness. Being physically active can also preserve the density of your bones.
All of these factors can help to reduce the amount of pain you experience and may help to prevent your discomfort from getting worse.”
Avoiding the ‘deconditioning cycle’
Your rheumatologist or GP may have explained the ‘deconditioning cycle’ if you have arthritis. This is the cycle that starts with painful joints, which can lead to people being less active.
This in turn means that the muscles become weaker, leading to unstable joints and more joint pain when you do move, completing the cycle. You can avoid this by staying active, but with the right type of exercise for you.
How regularly should people with arthritis exercise?
Dr Outhwaite advises “Arthritis sufferers are advised to work out for 30 minutes, at least five times a week. To get started, pick exercise that you enjoy. That way, you’re more likely to stay motivated and remain as active as possible.”
What sort of exercise is best for arthritis?
For people with arthritis, it is best to choose low impact exercise that puts less pressure on the joints. Low impact exercises include walking, swimming, aqua aerobics and cycling which give great cardio benefits but are less impactful on your joints than high intensity work out.
Dr Outhwaite advises that even though these exercises may be low impact you can still push yourself while doing them.
“Having arthritis doesn’t mean that you can’t carry out low impact exercises vigorously – you just need to be careful to stay within your limits.
Best strengthening exercise for arthritis
Strengthening exercises such as pilates and yoga are also important to help strengthen your muscles and support your joints.”
However, if you are experiencing a flare up and your joints feel inflamed, hot or swollen you should avoid strengthening exercise until your flare up has passed.
- Your GP is a good first port of call if you think you may be suffering with the symptoms of arthritis. They can refer you to a specialist for tests, who can More information
If you’re suffering with shoulder pain, speak to your GP about a possible referral to a specialist.
- If you don’t have a GP, you can make an appointment with one of our same day private GPs.
- Our Physiotherapy Department is fully equipped and staffed by experts on hand to help you increase your mobility.
- Our Orthopaedic Surgery Department is a world famous centre of excellence for all orthopaedic surgeries including the symptoms of arthritis. To enquire about seeing a specialist, contact us to make an appointment to see one of our experts. then discuss your treatment options with you.