Arthritis plagues many people in the second half of their life, and is the main cause of disability for those aged 55 and older.
It is a painful illness where one or more joints becomes inflamed. There are over 100 types of arthritis, the two most common forms being osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
If you are an arthritis sufferer, there are many natural things you can do to lessen your pain and, over time, even alleviate and reduce your symptoms.
Among these things, exercise is one of the most successful. Research has shown regular and purposeful exercise to be key in maintaining joint function and relieving stiffness and pain.
There are three specific kinds of exercise that target arthritis symptoms:
1. Endurance exercise. Building overall endurance improves overall health. Avoid activities that have high impact on joints such as running. Instead, stick with the gentler exercises like swimming, walking and bicycling. Be sure to avoid this kind of exercise during a flare-up.
2. Strength-building exercise. These resistance exercises strengthen the muscles surrounding the inflamed joints, providing more support. Bodyweight exercises are perfect for this. Research shows this is as effective as NSAIDs (anti-inflammatory drugs) without the nasty side effects. Note: Strength-building exercises should also be avoided during flare-ups of arthritis.
3. Range of motion exercise. This type of exercise aims to increase and improve the flexibility and mobility of the particular joints that are affected. They consist of slowly and gently moving your inflamed joint as far as possible and then pushing them just a little more. Range of motion exercises can be done at any time, and could be helpful even in the midst of an arthritis flare-up as long as you do them carefully.
There are other forms of exercise out there that are gentle on joints such as Tai Chi, yoga and water-based exercises that can be particularly helpful to the arthritis sufferer while also providing social and mental benefits.
So if you are in pain today, take heart and get it under control simply by moving your body.