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Arthritis – Movement is the Best Medicine!

Osteoarthritis is the most common chronic condition of the joints.  Osteoarthritis is a breakdown of the cartilage that protects the ends of our bones.  As the cartilage wears away, the bones become exposed and start rubbing against each other, causing pain at the joints.  There is no one specific cause of osteoarthritis, but overuse of your joints or former injury, weight and genes all play a determining role.

Fibromyalgia can be a very uncomfortable arthritis-related condition that the medical community is still researching because the symptoms are often “invisible.”  In many cases, the most common complaints are constantly feeling tired and pain throughout the entire body.  The exact cause of fibromyalgia is still not known.

The latest research from the Arthritis Foundation reveals that women are much more likely to suffer from a form of arthritis than men.  It is second only to heart disease as a reason for work disability. In the United States, arthritis results in 39 million visits to the doctor and more than half-a-million hospitalizations each year.  However, some basic and simple lifestyle changes can reduce the overall risk for development of arthritis for those of us who are aging.

It is generally accepted in the medical literature that moving is the best medicine for seniors with arthritis!  Exercise helps strengthen joints, enhance bone strength and promote healthy sleeping patterns.  Below is a list of the most beneficial exercises for seniors with arthritis, according to the Mayo Clinic.

  • Low-impact, aerobic exercise is the best choice for seniors with arthritis.
  • Swimming: It is easy on the joints and does not cause pain, like running can.  The Mayo Clinic recommends seniors to swim 20-30 minutes, 3 times a week.
  • Bicycling: Keeps joints flexible but strong, and reduces joint pain.  The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons recommends bicycling several times a week.
  • Strength Training: Other than building muscle strength, lifting weights increases bone density and helps protect the joints.  Bicep curls and lateral raises with light, free weights are recommended several times a week.
  • Yoga: Helps increase blood circulation.  It also strengthens flexibility and balance, which is key for seniors to avoid serious falls.

So, what’s the right exercise choice for you? We are all individuals, so we believe that exercise programs should be tailored to the individual. At Health First Physiotherapy we can assist you to develop a specific exercise regime that is most fitting to your particular situation. This may be a blend of cardiovascular exercise, stretching and strengthening. Or you may be best suited to one form of activity such as Yoga or Pilates.

We’re here to help!

Sources:  The Arthritis Foundation, the Mayo Clinic, AAOS, CDCP, Yoga Journal.

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