Millions of Americans suffer from osteoarthritis, and many of them struggle with one of the most commonly prescribed treatments: exercise. Remaining physically active can feel difficult and counterproductive with painful joints protesting at every step. For those who were active before their diagnosis, it’s frustrating to be limited by their condition. And for others, nurturing an active lifestyle is a new endeavor that feels especially tough.
Not all exercises need to look the same for everybody, though. Osteoarthritis can affect a number of joints, most commonly the knees, neck, hands, hips, and back. A doctor will be able to tell you if there are any movements or joint stressors to avoid with your specific situation. Depending on where you are medically and in your personal fitness journey, there are a variety of options to get you started or keep you going with maintaining healthy habits.
For patients with osteoarthritis who are new to the world of working out, there is plenty of evidence that water aerobics can help to both reduce the symptoms associated with the condition as well as improve cardiovascular function. This form of exercise is excellent for those who experience severe impact-related pain that would otherwise prevent them from being active. It can range from gentle stretches in the water to improve or maintain range-of-motion to full weighted moves. It’s a great way to ease yourself into a workout routine and hopefully ease the aches and pains before venturing out onto dry land for less supported movements.
If you’re a bit more experienced with physical activity or you have less joint pain when active, there are a variety of other workouts to help with your osteoarthritis. If you’ve been advised by your doctor to shed some excess pounds to alleviate the stress on the joints, it may be a good idea to explore aerobic activity as well to aid with reducing body weight. This can look like slow and easy walks with your morning coffee, a lunchtime chat on the move with coworkers, or an after-dinner stroll with your loved ones. If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, cycling can be an excellent way to stay active while avoiding extra pressure on the joints. Whether you’re stationary or biking around the neighborhood, this kind of exercise can help minimize the painful symptoms.
Staying active is not only one of the top prescriptions for managing osteoarthritis, it also comes with plenty of benefits that make exercise a vital part of any treatment plan. Heart health and weight management all contribute to joint pain and are improved by working out regularly. With all this in mind, it’s worth taking the time to learn what works best for your body so that you can live a happy and pain-free life.
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