Arthritis: Best exercises to relieve pain – strengthening, aerobic and range-of-motion

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Arthritis and similar joint conditions affect more than 10 million people in the UK, according to the NHS. Symptoms include joint pain, tenderness and stiffness, inflamed joints and restricted movement. There’s currently no cure for the condition, but symptoms can be relieved through simple lifestyle changes, like exercising. Exercise is crucial for people with arthritis, according to Mayo Clinic, and there are four exercises in particular it recommends.

It explains: “[Exercise] increases strength and flexibility, reduces joint pain, and helps combat fatigue.

“Of course, when stiff and painful joints are already bogging you down, the thought of walking around the block or swimming a few laps might seem overwhelming.

“Though you might think exercise will aggravate your joint pain and stiffness, that’s not the case. Lack of exercise actually can make your joints even more painful and stiff.

“That’s because keeping your muscles and surrounding tissue strong is crucial to maintaining support for your bones. Not exercising weakens those supporting muscles, creating more stress on your joints.”

Arthritis patients should also consult their doctor first about fitting exercise into their treatment plan.

But the non-profit charity organisation recommends four exercises effective at relieving joint pain.

Strengthening exercises

These type of exercises help build strong muscles which can help support and protect joints.

A good example of strengthening exercise is weight training.

It advises: “Remember to avoid exercising the same muscle groups two days in a row. Rest a day between your workouts, and take an extra day or two if your joints are painful or swollen.”

Aerobic exercise

Aerobic exercise helps with overall fitness and can help control body weight. Being overweight can put stress on joints, making them more painful.

Cycling, swimming and walking are all good examples of aerobic exercise.

It says: “Moderate intensity aerobic exercise is the safest and most effective if it’s done most days of the week, but even a couple of days a week is better than no exercise.

“To determine if you are in the moderate intensity exercise zone, you should be able to carry on a conversation while exercising, though your breathing rate will be increased.”

Range-of-motion exercises

This type of exercise relieves stiffness and increases the ability to move joints through their full range of motion.

It explains: “These exercises might include movements such as raising your arms over your head or rolling your shoulders forward and backward.

“In most cases, these exercises can be done daily.”

Body awareness exercises

Any movement, no matter how big or small, can help arthritis. Even daily activities like mowing the lawn, raking leaves and walking the dog count.

It says: “Body awareness exercises, such as gentle forms of yoga or tai chi, can help you improve balance, prevent falls, improve posture and coordination, and promote relaxation.

“Be sure to tell your instructor about your condition and avoid positions or movements that can cause pain.”

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