In the United States today, over one in five adults, or more than fifty million Americans, live with the pain and discomfort of arthritis. But, it doesn’t have to be this way. Many people use physical activity to manage their arthritis pain. If you personally don’t know the pain and stiffness of arthritis, chances are you know someone who does.
Arthritis pain prevents many people from living the life they want to live and from doing what they want. The barriers we know exist: pain, fear of pain or joint damage, and not knowing what exercise is safe, discourage many who experience discomfort or disability from taking advantage of our body’s own natural arthritis pain reliever – physical activity. Millions of Americans report that arthritis interferes with what they either want or need to do. Going up and down stairs was very painful. Even just getting dressed and putting your shoes on was a daily task that I could not do myself. Many of those people know that they should be physically active, but arthritis keeps getting in their way. A long time ago, doctors would meet people with arthritis and tell them to rest their joints’ because we didn’t have a lot of good treatments. That’s not true at all. Actually, resting your joints stiffens them up, what we’re really talking about when we’re encouraging people with arthritis to be more physically active is doing moderate physical activity like walking, swimming, biking that get their heart rate up a little bit or get them breathing a little bit harder.
Aim to do moderate physical activity five days a week for thirty minutes a day. Exercising as little as 10 minutes at a time will allow you to achieve the recommended two-and-a-half hours per week and get real health benefits. You want to listen to your body so that, if you are too sore, a couple hours later you know to cut back… maybe do a little bit less duration or frequency. It’s not running a marathon. It’s not the ‘no pain, no gain’ idea. It really helps reduce some arthritis-specific symptoms, like pain, swelling, limitations. Things like fatigue and depression also improve with physical activity. Once I started exercising, it’s now easy, I do it every morning. I do weights and I do the stretching and I have to do that very day. Some people prefer to exercise on their own, at their convenience, and that’s fine. Other people are a little worried about what kind of exercise might be safe for them. So, in that case, they can look for a community-based physical activity program. Most people will be seeing real benefits in four to six weeks. They’ll be having less pain in their joints than they did earlier.
Some people feel defeated by their arthritis or that arthritis has taken away the life that they want. You didn’t do anything to cause it, but you can’t let that mentality stop you from moving forward. And by regaining that sense of control, and a variety of self-management strategies can help them take charge, they can get their life back. Find an arthritis exercise program tailored for you. You can take charge of your arthritis and your life.