Can exercise really affect my lifestyle?
Americans could significantly improve their health and quality of life by practicing some form of physical activity on a regular basis. According to the Surgeon General’s Report on Physical Activity and Health, regular, moderate physical activity is beneficial in decreasing fatigue, strengthening muscles and bones, increasing flexibility and stamina, and improving an overall sense of well-being.
Is there a specific benefit of exercise for an arthritis sufferer?
Exercise helps to:
- Keep joints moving
- Strengthen muscles around the joints
- Strengthen and maintain bone and cartilage tissue
- Improve overall ability to do everyday activities
- Improve health and fitness by:
- increasing energy level
- improving sleep
- assisting weight control
- improving overall cardiovascular condition
- decreasing depression
- improving self-esteem and emotional health
What happens if I don’t exercise?
Lack of exercise contributes to:
- Smaller and weaker muscles
- Brittle bones
- Disfigured joints that stay in one position for so long that the ability to straighten them may be lost
- Loss of mobility in joints that may become locked in a position if they are not routinely worked
What type of exercise programs should an arthritis sufferer use?
A balanced exercise program is best. It should include a combination of the three main types of exercise:
- Range-of-Motion Exercises: These are basic stretching exercises to keep joints supple and mobile by moving them in their “range-of-motion”, the normal distance joints can move in certain directions.
- Strengthening Exercises: These are beneficial because they help maintain or increase muscle strength. Common ones include isometric exercises (tightening muscles without moving joints) and isotonic exercises (moving joints without strengthening muscles).
Endurance Exercises: These are beneficial because they strengthen the heart, while making the lungs more efficient and improving stamina. They also help improve sleep, weight loss and your mood. Examples are walking, cycling and swimming.
Before you begin an exercise program, you should consult a physician or a physical therapist, especially if you have not exercised in a while, have had any surgical procedures, or are over age 40.