Rather than a single disorder, arthritis includes over 100 conditions that can impact your joints and their surrounding tissues. More than 50 million adults in the United States have already been diagnosed with some form of the disease, and that number is expected to rise to nearly 80 million by 2040.
You can’t truly appreciate just how much you rely on your joints until they’re affected by chronic arthritis pain: Arthritis-related joint pain can turn the simplest tasks into a major challenge.
But even if you find it harder to go up and down stairs, get in and out of the car, or even walk around the block, it’s important to keep your body moving. Why? Because regular exercise increases the strength and flexibility of the muscles and connective tissues surrounding your joints, relieves stiffness, and promotes natural joint lubrication.
Regular exercise also helps you maintain a healthy body weight, which takes pressure off of your hips, knees, and ankles. If you’re ready to relieve arthritis-related joint pain or keep it from getting worse, try these joint-saving exercises:
Swimming and water aerobics
If you have access to a nearby health club with an indoor pool, it might be worth joining just to give yourself time in the water. Swimming, water aerobics, and other forms of water exercise are ideal for your joints, because they allow you to experience buoyancy as you strengthen, tone, and stretch your muscles.
Water provides extra resistance, too, allowing you to increase the intensity of your workout without overworking your joints. If you don’t like swimming or water aerobics classes, try jogging in the water instead.
Walking and hiking
Slip into a comfortable and supportive pair of walking shoes and head out for a walk around the neighborhood for 15-30 minutes. Walking is an excellent beginner exercise because it doesn’t require special equipment or a gym membership, you already know how to do it, and you can adjust your intensity gradually, as you see fit.
If you’re already an avid walker, try hiking. Walking up and down small hills or across uneven terrain can strengthen the smallest muscles involved in joint control and function. Hiking is also an ideal activity for runners who don’t want to overstress their joints. To kick it up a notch, use a pair of trekking poles and get your upper body involved.
Biking and indoor cycling
Like swimming, biking is an ideal joint-saving exercise because it’s low-impact. Riding a bicycle is particularly beneficial because it strengthens the muscles in your quadriceps, which helps stabilize your knee joints. It also improves your overall leg strength and promotes natural lubrication in your hip, knee, and ankle joints.
Biking can also give you an excellent aerobic workout and help you burn a significant number of calories in the process. If you dislike the idea of riding alongside motor vehicle traffic, look for a bike path in your area, find a gym that has stationary bikes, or sign up for indoor cycling classes.
Body weight exercises
Body weight exercises require you to move or lift your own weight against gravity in order to strengthen every major muscle group in your body. Because this resistance workout doesn’t use equipment and easily modifies to any fitness level, it’s ideal for just about everyone.
Squats, lunges, pushups, planks, and bridges are just a few of the many body weight exercises you can incorporate into your workout. To learn proper form, you might consider hiring a personal trainer for a few sessions. An experienced trainer can show you how to tailor these exercises to the level you’re at, as well as how to make them more challenging by adding resistance or performing longer sets.
Stretching exercises and yoga
Stretching has much more to offer than simply helping you warm up before you work out or helping you cool down afterward. When you make stretching your main workout, either by taking a regular yoga class or developing your own well-rounded routine of stretching exercises a few times each week, you relive stiffness by helping your joints find their full range of motion.
Actively stretching the muscles around each joint also decreases compression within the joint itself, which can help make your joints more stable. If a certain stretch or yoga pose puts too much stress on a joint, you can easily ease off the stretch or modify the pose to make it comfortable.
Besides improving your flexibility, a solid stretching routine can also help you improve your core strength, balance, and stability, all of which are beneficial when you have arthritis.
To find out which joint-saving exercises might benefit you the most, call our Gambrills, Maryland office today, or use our convenient online booking tool any time to schedule an appointment.