For years, people with arthritis and related conditions were told not to exercise. Exercising with arthritis was thought to increase pain and inflammation. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that exercise can help people with arthritis by reducing joint pain and stiffness, and increasing flexibility, muscle strength, cardiac fitness and endurance. Regular exercise also keeps pain from starting by helping you shed pounds and reduces stress.
The CDC recommends:
- 2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week OR
- 1 hour 15 minutes (75 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week OR
- an equivalent combination* of moderate and vigorous activity.
- Muscle strengthening exercises on 2 or more days per week.
- Balance exercises on 3 days per week if at risk of falling.
The Arthritis Foundation recommends these five activities for people who suffer from arthritis.
1) Water Aerobics: Water Aerobics can lessen the weight on your joints by 75% in comparison to aerobics on land.
2) Lap Swimming: Lap swimming is a good all-around body workout hitting the majority of the major muscle groups.
3) Tai Chi: A mind-body martial art improves balance and reduces stress and arthritis pain.
4) Yoga: A slow paced class that emphasizes good form, improves flexibility, strengthens muscles and reduces stress.
5) Cycling: Cycling can be done both indoors and out and works the majority of the muscles in your lower body.
These gentle activities can help increase flexibility and endurance without putting too much pressure on the joints. People with arthritis should always discuss exercise options with their health care provider before beginning an exercise plan.
* A general rule is that 1 minute of vigorous intensity activity = 2 minutes of moderate intensity activity.