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5 Ways to Make Your Workouts Arthritis-Friendly

5 Ways to Make Your Workouts Arthritis-Friendly

More than two in five adults (43.5%) with arthritis say that persistent joint pain and stiffness has the power to make daily tasks more difficult, limit their activities, or restrict their mobility. But it doesn’t have to be this way: You have the power to keep arthritis symptoms in check. 

How? By moving your body every day, and engaging in smart, arthritis-friendly exercise.

Here, our seasoned team of board-certified orthopedists at Sports Medicine Oregon in Tigard and Wilsonville, Oregon, explains why exercise is an essential component of successful arthritis management, and explores five workouts that promote optimal joint health.  

Movement is therapeutic for arthritic joints

Arthritis-related joint pain and stiffness can make it harder to go up and down the stairs, walk your energetic dog, or even open a stubborn jar. But for as tempting as it can be to taper your activity levels and live a slower, more sedentary lifestyle, inactivity only serves to:

While there’s a place for rest and activity modification — particularly when arthritis symptoms flare — your overall lifestyle pattern should be one that emphasizes movement. Why? Regular physical activity takes stress off your joints by: 

Simply put, keeping your body moving is what keeps your joints moving, and as luck would have it, it’s also what helps ease inflammation to take the edge off arthritis pain and stiffness — naturally.  

Arthritis-friendly workout recommendations

Low-impact exercise is the best way to improve and support arthritic joints as you work to build stronger muscles, improve your flexibility, and increase your cardiovascular endurance. Our top joint-friendly workout recommendations include:

1. Swimming and water aerobics

If water workouts weren’t at the top of your list before, they should be now: Getting in the pool is one of the best things you can do for arthritic joints. 

 Whether you swim laps, take water aerobics classes, or simply walk back and forth across the shallow end, the water provides “buoyant resistance” that both assists and resists you as you work to strengthen, tone, and stretch your body — without injuring or overworking your joints. 

2. Daily walking and hiking

Walking is an ideal form of exercise for nearly everyone, including people with arthritic joints. Even better, it doesn’t require extra training or a gym membership, and you can easily adjust your duration and intensity as you become fitter (or when you need to take it easy).      

To get started, all you need is a supportive pair of walking shoes and somewhere enjoyable to walk. If you’re a beginner, start with a 30-minute daily walk (or break it up into two 15-minute walks). Try to add five minutes to your overall time each week, until you can easily manage at least a one-hour walk (or two 30-minute walks) each day. 

If you’re relatively fit, use a pair of trekking poles to work your upper body at the same time. You can also take your walk off-road and try hiking over a more varied terrain. 

3. Bike riding or indoor cycling

Bike riding — whether it’s on a regular bicycle or a stationary indoor model — is an excellent low-impact aerobic workout that helps you “supercharge your calorie burn” without stressing your joints. In fact, cycling helps stabilize arthritic knee joints by strengthening supporting leg muscles and fostering improved joint lubrication.

4. Regular stretching and yoga

When you have arthritis, it’s important to stretch your body before and after each workout. But besides helping you warm up before exercise and cool down afterwards, stretching is an ideal way to decompress, soothe, and stabilize arthritic joints. 

Regular flexibility training can help you restore a fuller range of joint motion, provided you do it properly. Whether you take gentle yoga classes or develop your own stretching practice, know and respect your physical limits: Aim for comfortable stretches that don’t strain your muscles or stress your joints. 

5. Body weight strength training

Body weight exercises involve moving your own weight against gravity — a convenient, equipment-free form of resistance — to strengthen your muscles and joints. These exercises are easy to modify, making them an ideal form of strength training for every fitness level.

Squats, lunges, wall pushups, planks, and bridges are just a few of the many body weight exercises you can incorporate into your workout. Our team can teach you proper form, tailor each exercise to your fitness level, and show you how to make them more challenging with added resistance or longer sets.  

Don’t let arthritis keep you on the sidelines

At Sports Medicine Oregon, our experts can help you develop a joint-friendly exercise plan that eases your symptoms, keeps you active, and restores a better quality of life. Call or click online today to schedule a visit at your nearest office in Tigard or Wilsonville, Oregon, today.

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