I’ve Become My Own Client

As many of you know, I’ve been “dealing” recently with a progressively painful case of osteoarthritis in my left hip. I understand now why Baby Boomers and seniors with this disease don’t want to exercise much–it hurts! But as a fitness professional, I also know the critical role exercise plays in continuing to strengthen joints and keep other chronic diseases at bay.

Don’t let arthritis pain keep you down.

So I’ve had to get creative with myself to find acceptable physical activity I can put back into my day (my go-to exercise fix for many years has been walking; but now, unfortunately, more than 5 minutes at a time is out for me).

So I get 20 – 30 minutes of bicycling twice a week at my gym, attend a yoga class weekly, and stand and walk around the house as much as I can. And starting this week, I’ll visit our community pool before dinner at least twice a week to get in some needed laps.

A CRIPPLING DISEASE

Here’s some information about arthritis, and recommendations for self-care.

• According to the Arthritis Foundation, one in four adults, or nearly 54 million people, have doctor-diagnosed arthritis.
• Arthritis includes more than 100 diseases and conditions that affect joints, the tissues that surround the joint and other connective tissue.
• The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis. Its main symptoms are joint pain, swelling and stiffness; these usually grow worse with age.
• The second most common type of arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis. It’s an autoimmune disease with painful inflammation at various joints.
• Scientists don’t know exactly what causes or how to prevent arthritis, and it’s generally considered incurable.
• Being female and having a family history of the disorder increase your risk of developing arthritis.

FOOD
For arthritis, it’s important to maintain a healthy weight. Extra pounds put additional loads on joints, and limit mobility.

Much has been written about foods to eat or avoid for arthritis care, but the consensus seems to be a Mediterranean-type diet: fish, 3 – 4 oz twice a week, nuts and seeds, fruits and vegetables (berries, cherries, spinach, kale and broccoli), olive oil and whole grains. These foods are filling, full of beneficial phytochemicals, antioxidants and anti-inflammatories.

Some people with arthritis avoid nightshades vegetables (eggplant, tomatoes, potatoes and red bell peppers). Although there’s no scientific evidence this practice helps relieve arthritis pain, if you believe they’re affecting your condition, try eliminating all nightshade veggies for a few weeks.

Others find glucosamine helpful, but according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, studies have produced conflicting evidence as to whether the supplement reduces joint pain. Check with your doctor before trying glucosamine, as it can interfere with the blood thinner Coumadin and may affect your body’s ability to handle blood sugar.

PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
As I said earlier, movement is imperative; my physical therapist likes to say “motion is the lotion!” Exercise encourages the circulation of synovial fluid that lubricates joints; it increases blood flow to pump oxygen and nutrients to affected areas and helps remove wastes.

Work with your healthcare providers to design an individualized program for your specific arthritis needs.

Engage in strength training twice a week to improve muscle strength around the affected area, resulting in less stress on the joint, reduced pain and joint stiffness and improved maintenance of functional abilities.

Strive for 150 minutes of cardio per week. Start slowly, noting which activities your body tolerates. Be sure to include plenty of time to warm up (heat relaxes muscles and increases circulation), then find aerobic exercises you enjoy that do not twist or pound your joints.

Excellent examples include walking, swimming and water-based exercises, stationery biking and yoga.

Applying ice after exercise can help decrease pain and inflammation.

Check with the Arthritis Foundation or your local YMCA for programs in your area.

And don’t forget flexibility and balance exercises.

For help with your arthritis, give me a call!
We can discuss some practical tips and discover if any of my programs or classes are a good fit for you.
If you’d like to schedule that call with me, just CLICK THIS LINK, and let me know in the message that you would like a 1-on-1 call with me right away and I will be in touch to schedule that – oh, and leave me your phone number in there too since email is not as reliable as it used to be! Thanks.