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Joint Efforts-Exercise and Arthritis:
What Caregivers Need to Know
Exercise protocols that have proved beneficial for
managing arthritis have been stretching and
range-of-motion exercises. The aim of range-of-motion
exercise is to move a joint as far as comfortable and
then stretch it a little more. This helps maintain joint
mobility along with improving joint function. Range of
motion work also helps to minimize joint pain. "Use it
or lose it" certainly applies here. Performing light
stretches, even several times per day, is acceptable and
beneficial with most patients.
Low-impact exercises such as walking, bicycling and
swimming also have their place in arthritis programming.
As mentioned earlier, recent studies have shown
low-impact activities aid greatly in this population.
The benefits of this cardiovascular work include:
strengthening the heart, lungs, weight management, and
reducing stress to name only a few. Aim for 30 minutes
of low-impact activity done at a comfortable pace. This
can be done every day and even broken down into three,
ten-minute sessions in the beginning.
Finally, strengthening exercises help to increase muscle
and connective tissue strength, stabilize joints, and
improve overall tone. Strength training can come in the
form of weights, elastic bands or simply one's body
weight against gravity. Resistance training is also a
key component for increasing bone density, which is of
special concern to women. Strength training should only
be performed every other day, allowing a day of rest in
By incorporating exercise and activity into part of the
treatment plan for people with arthritis, successful
pain management, conditioning and an enhanced lifestyle
can become possible.