For those suffering from arthritis, go to Gym with joint pain may sound unpleasant, or even impossible, depending on the case. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sees physical activity as an "analgesic" for arthritis.
Aerobic or cardiovascular exercise, along with strength and flexibility training, is a key component of all general physical routines recommended by the CDC, the Arthritis Foundation, and other public and private health organizations engaged in the treatment and the arthritis research.
For those suffering from arthritis, aerobic exercises can help reduce pain and improve joint function.
Where to start
The CDC offers these key points for those suffering from arthritis:
• Any safe physical activity is better than doing nothing. • People with arthritis can participate, safely, in moderate and low impact exercises. • The exercise must be done in addition to your daily activities. • You do not need to do the whole exercise at the same time. You can divide it into 10-minute sessions throughout the day. • The more physical activity, within safe limits, the better health. • The benefits of moderate and safe physical activity outweigh the risks of injury.
Of course, anyone who starts a training program should consult their doctor first. Other professionals who can advise you are physiotherapists, and certified physical trainers.
Aerobic or cardiovascular exercise
Low-impact aerobics offer a host of health benefits - from improving the effectiveness of your heart and lungs to reducing stress. For those who suffer from arthritis, these types of exercises can help reduce pain and improve joint function, but be sure to avoid high-intensity exercises that can impact or shake the knees and other affected joints.
The Arthritis Foundation recommends three or four half-hour aerobic sessions each week, in addition to your strength and flexibility training sessions. It is a good idea to start slowly, perhaps with just a few minutes of training, and gradually increase the duration as your resistance increases. Move gently. Avoid hitting the joints or pushing them too hard.
Types of exercises
Some low impact aerobics are:
• Walking. Walking is a cheap and excellent way to exercise, which does not require special skills - all you need is good shoes, and you can go out.
• Riding a bicycle. Most doctors recommend the use of a stationary bike to avoid putting extra strain on the knees, hips and feet. Take precautions with cycling, and do not strain yourself too much. Start slowly, at a speed of 5 to 10 miles per hour, increasing speed and endurance as your fitness improves. This type of exercise may not be suitable for everyone, especially those with osteoarthritis.
• Swimming or aquatic exercise. Exercising in the water can greatly reduce the impacts to the knees, by buoyancy, and, at the same time, provides resistance.
Each person is different. Find the type of exercise that works best for you and your specific needs, and practice it. Talk to your doctor before beginning any exercise routine to determine how demanding it should be, based on your general physical condition and the condition of the affected joints.
About the author
Dean Haycock holds a Ph.D. in Biology from Brown University and received a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health to study at Rockefeller University.
His research in neuropharmacology has been published in the journals of Neurochemistry, Biological Chemistry, Medical Chemistry, Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics and in Brain Research.
Haycock is the author of "The Everything Health Guide to Schizophrenia (The Complete Guide to Schizophrenia)", "The Everything Health Guide to Adult Bipolar Disorder, 2nd edition (The complete guide for bipolar people, second edition)", and the co-author of "Overcoming Complications of LASIK and Other Eye Surgeries".