Commentary by Kim Rockey
It may seem illogical to exercise when you’re in pain. When some part of our body hurts, we think we shouldn’t use it – let alone exercise the area in pain. However if properly, and progressively, engaged, exercise is one of the single most important things people with arthritis can do for themselves.
For individuals young or old dealing with osteoarthritis or the autoimmune disease rheumatoid arthritis, one must be smart about adding exercise to their movement regime. First, visit your physician or rheumatologist to be cleared for exercise. Second, you must choose a fitness professional to help you. Not all personal trainers understand how to adapt exercise for arthritis patients or the older population. And third, simply get started exercising (this may be the hardest part where a coach, trainer or friend can help; even new workout clothes can motivate you).
Exercising with arthritis is achievable. Managing your expectations around what you can and cannot accomplish assists with this process. Remember even small improvements in your abilities produce a variety of results.
The benefits of exercise for individuals with arthritis outweigh the risks by focusing on the efficient use of time, effort and energy. We know exercise releases endorphins (the happy hormones) while increasing quality of life by simply promoting easier movement. Staying active and reducing pain are essentials to well-being and emotional and mental health. Joint range of motion, stretching and muscular endurance are keys to successful living or aging with arthritis.
The effects of osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis do not have to derail a fitness program. The combination of feeling stronger physically and uplifted emotionally can be just the shot in the arm someone needs to overcome the discomfort associated with these conditions.