Ease pain of arthritis with exercise
The Savvy SeniorMarch 28, 2012 | 1,731 views | Post a comment
Dear Savvy Senior,
Can exercise help seniors with arthritis? I have osteoarthritis and have read that certain exercises can help ease the pain, but I don’t know where to start, and I certainly don’t want to make it any worse than it already is. What can you tell me?
Lots of seniors who have arthritis believe that exercise will worsen their condition, but that’s not true. Study after study has shown that exercise is actually one of the best treatments for osteoarthritis.
Proper and careful exercises can help reduce joint pain and stiffness, strengthen muscles around the joints, and increase flexibility. It also helps manage other chronic conditions that are common among seniors with arthritis, such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Here are some tips to help you get moving.
Exercises for Arthritis
Determining exactly which types of exercises are best for you depends on the form and severity of your arthritis, and which joints are involved. It’s best to work with your doctor or a physical therapist to help you develop an exercise program that works for you. The different types of exercises that are most often recommended to seniors with arthritis include:
•Range-of-motion exercises: These are gentle stretching exercises that can relieve stiffness as well as improve your ability to move your joints through their normal range of motion. These exercises should be done daily.
•Strengthening exercises: Calisthenics, weight training, and working with resistance bands are recommended (two or more days a week) to maintain and improve your muscle strength, which helps support and protect your joints.
•Aerobic exercises: Low-impact activities like walking, cycling, swimming, or water aerobics are all recommended three to five times per week to help improve cardiovascular health, control weight, and improve your overall function.
It’s also important to keep in mind that when you first start exercising, you need to go slow to give your body time to adjust. If you push yourself too hard, you can aggravate your joint pain; however, some muscle soreness or joint achiness in the beginning is normal.
To help you manage your pain, start by warming up with some simple stretches or range-of-motion exercises for five to 10 minutes before you move on to strengthening or aerobic exercises. Another tip is to apply heat to the joints you’ll be working before you exercise, and use cold packs after exercising to reduce inflammation.
If you’re experiencing a lot of pain while you exercise, you may need to modify the frequency, duration, or intensity of your exercises until the pain improves. Or you may need to try a different activity -- for example, switching from walking to water aerobics. But if you’re having severe, sharp, or constant pain, or large increases in swelling, or your joints feel hot or red, you need to stop and see your doctor.
To help you exercise at home, there are a number of arthritis exercise DVDs you can purchase to guide you through a wide variety of activities. Collage Video (collagevideo.com, 800-819-7111) sells several at prices ranging between $10 and $25, as does the Arthritis Foundation Store at afstore.org or 800-283-7800.
Also see go4life.niapublications.org, a resource created by the National Institute on Aging that offers a free exercise DVD and book that provides illustrated examples of exercises you can do to improve your condition. You can order your free copies online or by calling 800-222-2225.
If you need some motivation or don’t like exercising alone, ask your doctor about exercise programs in your area for people with arthritis. Hospitals and clinics sometimes offer special programs, as do local health clubs and senior centers. The Arthritis Foundation also conducts exercise and aquatic programs for people with arthritis in many communities throughout the United States. Contact your local branch (see arthritis.org/chaptermap.php, or call 800-283-7800 for contact information) to find out what may be available near you.
Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC “Today” show and author of The Savvy Senior book. Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org.
Your Opinions and Comments
Be the first to comment on this story!
You must be logged in to post a comment.
South Texas Living Archives
Apple Pie readers help Julia fill in the blanks (September 21, 2016)
Cheap cell phone plans for seniors (September 21, 2016)
Come And Take It starts Sept. 30 (September 21, 2016)
Disc water pitcher (September 21, 2016)
DRT chapter plans meeting, new member class (September 21, 2016)
Get ready to grill at show barn’s barbecue cook-off (September 21, 2016)
Old Town Day seeks vendors (September 21, 2016)
Poth VFD to serve up barbecued chicken (September 21, 2016)
Run and shine at Neon Sizzle 5K (September 21, 2016)
Spots open for Community Yard Sale (September 21, 2016)
St. Mary’s Fall Festival Sept. 25 (September 21, 2016)
Support FUMC youth at barbecue ‘fun’ raiser (September 21, 2016)
Teen MOPS plans upcoming meetings (September 21, 2016)
The root of many evils (September 21, 2016)
Uncovering local legends: The grave in the middle of the road (September 21, 2016)
URBAN-15 seeks dancers, drummers (September 21, 2016)
Chicago Cub yearbooks (September 14, 2016)
Enjoy Country Music Show Sept. 20 (September 14, 2016)
How to prevent falls at home (September 14, 2016)
Krawietz family reunion (September 14, 2016)
La Vernia EMS plans Car Show (September 14, 2016)
Labatt Club donates to library, children (September 14, 2016)
Low voices and high hopes (September 14, 2016)
Lutheran Church plans Sausage Dinner (September 14, 2016)
Medicaid covers mosquito repellent to fight Zika (September 14, 2016)
Metting family plans reunion (September 14, 2016)
Non-prescription drugs — the forgotten solution to rising health-care costs (September 14, 2016)
Relay For Life meeting is Sept. 15 (September 14, 2016)
Seguin Cowboy Gathering is Sept. 17 (September 14, 2016)
Smith Gas celebrates 88 years in business (September 14, 2016)
The life of Doris Billimek Moczygemba (September 14, 2016)
Trail ride donations surpass $1M (September 14, 2016)
Visit Remembering Our Fallen exhibit in Seguin (September 14, 2016)
Who will take care of you? (September 14, 2016)
A life shaped by hard work and hunting (September 7, 2016)
After-Dinner Chocolates (September 7, 2016)
Cajun music Sept. 10 (September 7, 2016)
Donate hearing aids, glasses, equipment (September 7, 2016)
Earn a certification in native landscaping (September 7, 2016)
Enjoy EquestFest 2016 (September 7, 2016)
Getting Engaged? How to spend wisely (September 7, 2016)
Mystery box (September 7, 2016)
Nominate a nonprofit for Literacy Award (September 7, 2016)
Old medicine chest dates back to 1821 (September 7, 2016)
Professional bull riding returns to Fredericksburg (September 7, 2016)
Register to run for tacos Oct. 1 (September 7, 2016)
Road Runners plan September outings (September 7, 2016)
Still time to buy tickets for Wild Game Dinner (September 7, 2016)
Take a tour of SS museum Sept. 17 (September 7, 2016)
Take the H-E-B Slim Down challenge (September 7, 2016)
Vote for top flick at Manhattan Short Film Festival (September 7, 2016)
Welcome to The Greenline, a 43-acre linear park (September 7, 2016)
‘Cupping’ long before Phelps did it (September 7, 2016)