Exercise Can Ease Arthritis

Exercise Can Ease Arthritis

Hiking the Columbia Gorge. Walking the coastline of Cannon Beach. Strolling the waterfront of downtown Portland. There are countless ways to keep active in your retirement in and around our beautiful city!

If the mention of these activities excites you, but you’re worried about the impact of joint pain on your ability to participate with your loved ones, you’re not alone. Greater than one-third of all people over 65-years old are affected by osteoarthritis. The joint pain and stiffness associated with this condition is the result of cartilage and bone degeneration, and has been found to be most related to five factors: excess body weight, prior joint injury, genetics, one’s occupation and age, in that order.

Aside from a total joint replacement, there is currently no cure for arthritis. But don’t despair—even small reductions in body weight can have a large impact on how much pain and physical disability you experience from arthritis. A study in Arthritis and Rheumatism (July 2005), demonstrated that each pound of weight loss yields a four-fold reduction in load exertion to the knee.

Next to moderate weight loss, another action you can take is to begin a low impact exercise routine to maintain your joint range of motion, and improve muscle strength. “Some patients think that aerobic exercise will worsen their condition,” says rheumatologist Emily Farrar of the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.

“But it’s not going to hurt your arthritis,” she says. “It may not take away all the pain. In fact, you might actually feel more pain for the first few days. But if you stick with it, you’ll experience less stiffness and discomfort.”

“If you increase the strength of the muscles around the joints, you can decrease the pain in those joints, the knees in particular,” says Farrar.

In short, if you are suffering from joint pain related to arthritis, you don’t have to accept a decline in your abilities as an inevitable result of aging. Maintain a healthy weight, and give yourself a new mantra: Strong and Flexible beats Weak and Stiff! And, if you would like professional guidance for exercises to help your arthritis, speak with a physical therapist. They are movement experts!

The mountains, rivers and seaside of our beautiful Northwest await. Get out and play!

Article provided by
Ben Musholt, PT
Beyond the Clinic

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