Over 25 percent of all older adults are affected by arthritis and are on some sort of medication for it. Although many believe that prescribed medicine is the only way to treat arthritis, there are other treatments available. One effective and simple method of treating arthritis is exercise. Exercise is beneficial for individuals with arthritis as it lubricates the joints, keeps them flexible, and helps lessen the pain. Additionally, exercising helps shed those extra pounds which put a lot of strain on the joints and makes them stiff Therefore, do not hesitate to incorporate exercise into your daily routines! Before starting any exercise plan, have a doctor’s approval. An individualized exercise perscription from the doctor usually includes low-impact exercises from these categories:
- Endurance Exercises- Helps maintain a healthy weight and reduces swelling in joints
- Balance Exercises- Improves proprioception (ability to know where you are in space). Prevents falls.
- Range-of-Motion Exercises- Relieves stiffness and improves flexibility.
- Strengthening Exercises- Helps muscles support the joints.
One great exercise for people with arthritis is yoga. It encourages better posture by making you stronger and more flexible. Some studies have shown how yoga may even prevent inflammation and help protect against some chronic inflammatory diseases. Participating in yoga in the long run could also improve heart health. One study done found that participants 40 years or older who took yoga for 5 years had a significantly lower blood pressure than those who didn’t.
Another beneficial and fairly easy exercise for people with arthritis is… walking! Many might not know this but walking is very beneficial not only for arthritis patients, but for everyone! Begin by taking a 15 minute walk first and then slowly progressing each day. That means that if you started with a 15 minute walk on the first day, increase it to a 30 minute walk the next and so on. This will improve cardiovascular health, strengthen bones, and support flexibility.
If a senior is suffering from arthritis in multiple area, the best exercise for them would be swimming, This is due to the fact that water takes the weight off of joints and allows them to move further with less pain. If the senior does not know how to swim, sign them up for water aerobic classes where you spend the majority of time standing on the bottom of the pool. Better yet, sign up for the water aerobic class with the senior to provide support and spend some quality time with them.
Although lifting weights might seem intimidating, it is one of the most beneficial exercises for seniors with arthritis. Weight lifting strengthens muscles and helps ease joint pain and stiffness. One study found that seniors with arthritis who performed strength training exercises twice a week for two years improved muscle strength by 59 percent. Furthermore, reductions in pain, inflammation, and stiffness were also reported. Another reason why arthritis patients should weight lift is because strength training can increase bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. This is significant because many medications used to treat arthritis can increase the risk of osteoporosis (a condition that weakens the bones).