Arthritis: Arthritis Home Exercise

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Starting a Healthy Home Exercise Program for Arthritis

If you have arthritis, you may feel like you have to avoid exercise. But actually, the opposite is true. It’s important to help you manage arthritis symptoms, improve joint function, and enhancing your mental health. First, let’s take a look at some common arthritic conditions.

  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) occurs when the immune system attacks the joints. As a result, you may experience symptoms like joint pain, stiffness and swelling. Over time, your body ca start to attack more and more joints. 
  • Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a chronic type of arthritis in the lower back. You might notice symptoms like inflammation, pain, and stiffness. It can also lead to new bone growth, leading to fusion in the joints. 
  • Osteoarthritis (OA), the most common type of arthritis. It most commonly affects the knees, hips, hands and spine. It begins to wear down the cartilage, so your bones rub against each other, causing pain and swelling. 
  • Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is a kind of inflammatory arthritis. Your immune system attacks your joints and skin. Symptoms include swelling, joint warmth, pain, and psoriasis plaques. 

How to Choose Joint-Friendly Arthritis Exercises

Before you start your exercise program, talk to your family physician or rheumatologist. You may also want to consult with a fitness specialist, chiropractor or physiotherapist. They can help you pick exercises that will be easy on the joints and enjoyable to do. Some popular low-impact arthritis exercises include swimming, water aerobics, cycling, walking, yoga and Pilates. Here are some additional tips:

Opt for range-of-motion exercises to improve flexibility and reduce joint stiffness. These gentle movements will take your joints through their full range of motion. Some ideas are doing wrist and ankle circles, and rotating your shoulders.

By including strength training exercises in your fitness routine, you’ll start to build muscle around your joints. You could try resistance exercises with bands or weights. Also good for arthritis: stretching exercises. You’ll improve flexibility, which will support your joint range of motion. Maybe try some yoga or Pilates.

The Link Between Arthritis Exercise and Mental Health

Starting a home arthritis exercise program goes beyond just physical benefits. Here’s how it can help support your mental health:

  • Exercise promotes the release of endorphins, which naturally enhance your mood and helps you manage pain.
  • Arthritis exercise can reduce your stress and enhance your sleep.
  • It can be good for managing depression and anxiety.

Arthritis Exercise and Nutrition

Exercise and nutrition go hand in hand when it comes to arthritis. There are many ways to improve arthritis symptoms with foods. Here are a few examples:

  • Anti-inflammatory foods can reduce pain and swelling. Look for fruits and vegetables like berries, spinach and broccoli. 
  • Eat foods with omega-3 fatty acids. These also have anti-inflammatory properties and are found in fatty fish like salmon and mackerel.
  • Healthy fats can reduce inflammation and support cardiovascular health.
  • Whole grains are rich in fiber, which may help you manage your weight.
  • Protein in poultry, fish and beans support joint function.
  • Try and limit saturated fats, as these can cause inflammation (and affect your heart health).

To learn more about starting a home exercise program to manage arthritis, talk to your physician or rheumatologist. They can support you as you find a safe and effective arthritis exercise program that promotes joint health.

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