Arthritis and Exercise

 07/01/2013 | 10:41 PM 

ExercisingArthritis is a general term that refers to joint inflammation. The two primary forms are osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). In this article we are going to cover the most common which is osteoarthritis. In recent reports its estimated that approximately 22 million Americans have OA and the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that around 10% of the worldÕs population age 60 or older has the disease. OA results from degeneration of synovial fluid and usually progresses into a loss of cartilage. In most cases it causes reduced range of motion and joint pain. In the earliest stages there may be no symptoms at all until the joint is under continuous stress. The good news is that OA can be held at bay. With correct exercise, one can maintain normal function and prevent further deconditioning. Increasing muscular strength and endurance, enhancing stability of joints, and improving range of motion are all steps in the right direction.

Exercise is one of the best things you can do for yourself if you have either type of Arthritis. Unfortunately exercise is not a cure for OA or RA, but maintaining a regular aerobic and resistance program can reduce pain and the progression of the disease. There are a few guidelines to follow though. Warming up is very important!  An adequate warm up would be 10 minutes. This is to insure joint lubrication. Strive for 3 to 5 days per week of light to moderate aerobic exercise. These exercises should be low impact. I would recommend walking, swimming, or cycling. Last, I would insist trying myofacial release (foam roller or massage) it can decrease passive tension and break down soft tissue adhesions that can effect normal muscular functions. Personal training is always a good option if you are unfamiliar with exercises or are in need of guidance.

Osteoporosis and Exercise

Osteoporosis is a major cause of disability in older men and women. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation as many as 57 million Americans suffer from this ailment. Osteoporosis can result in fractures in the hip and spine, compression of discs and stooped posture. The good news is that you can help treat osteoporosis with exercise, in particular, strength training and flexibility exercises. By being more active you can slow mineral loss and strengthen your bones. You can do low impact activities – walking, aerobics, dancing and gardening. Weight bearing exercises can have even better results as they stress the body and force it to form new bone material. This is accomplished by promoting osteoblastgenesis – the formation of bone by osteoblasts and the reabsorption of old bone by osteoclasts.

Women and men who have been physically active throughout their lives generally have stronger bones than do women and men who have led more sedentary lives. But don’t let that discourage you if you are not active. It’s never too late to start exercising! Regular physical activity can increase your muscle strength, improve your balance, better enable to carry out daily tasks and activities, maintain or improve your posture, relieve or decrease pain and improve your sense of well-being.

Exercising if you have osteoporosis means finding the safest, most enjoyable activities for you given your overall health and amount of bone loss. There’s no one-size-fits-all prescription. So think about activities that you would enjoy doing. Maybe you can find others with like interests and share in the activity. Before you start, check with you doctor to make sure you are ready to get moving. They may offer to test bone density and a general fitness assessment.

This article was written by James Singer, President and Sean Sewell, Head Trainer of Absolute Personal Fitness Inc, Lakewood, CO.
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