Fitness Tips for Arthritis & Active Aging

It may seem counterintuitive, but exercising is one of the best ways to treat arthritis pain.

Recent studies show that physical activity, along with weight loss, ease that pain and improve functioning of the affected joints.

One of my 70+ year-old clients recently started working with me to get in shape for an upcoming trip to Europe.  But with lots of walking in her future, she’s hesitant to perform leg exercises because of recurring knee pain.  This fear–that physical activity will exacerbate pain–is common among folks with arthritis.  However, when done correctly, nothing could be further from the truth!

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 25% of American adults have arthritis.  The most common form, osteoarthritis, is more prevalent in older people.  With this condition, the cartilage between the joints wears away, causing stiffness and eventual pain.

The hands and knees are the most common joints affected by osteoarthritis.

knees commonly become arthriticBeing overweight doubles the risk of developing knee osteoarthritis; obesity quadruples that risk.

Unfortunately, arthritis limits mobility for almost half of those who have the disease.  They then become less active and more unfit, and are able to perform even fewer daily functions!

What you can do to minimize the pain and limitations of arthritis:

  • Become active

    • Move joints daily.
    • Take a warm shower prior to exercise (heat relaxes joints and muscles to relieve pain).
    • Choose exercises that minimize stress on joints.
    • Cardio: Meeting national guidelines of 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity each week could add up to 20 days of good health in one year for arthritic patients, according to one new study.
    • Strength training: Concentrate on strengthening the muscles surrounding the joint.  For example, if you have knee arthritis, concentrate on strengthening your quadriceps (thighs), hips, and calves.
  • Lose weight

    • Researchers have found that a 10% reduction in weight, especially combined with physical activity, helps decrease the inflammation and pain of the disease.
  • Supplements

    • Although many people use glucosamine with chondroitin for arthritis pain relief, the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database reports insufficient reliable evidence to rate effectiveness.
  • Find local resources

    • Check with the Arthritis Foundation or your Yswimming: excellent for arthritisMCA for programs in your area, especially water-based ones.
  • Work with your physician

    • Design an individualized program for your specific arthritis needs.

For exercise programs tailored to meet your personal fitness needs, check out our Services  .