Written by MindMate Staff
Exercising may be the last thing on your mind if your joints are aching or you are feeling the fatigue associated with chronic pain. However, it can go a long way in improving symptoms of arthritis and improving mental well-being. There is a wide range of exercises to choose from, even some you wouldn’t expect to be compatible with the condition. Here are our top four exercises for those living with arthritis.
Cycling is perhaps one of the most popular low impact sports. Many believe that the repetitive motion of the knee joint during cycling would exacerbate their arthritis, but this motion, without constant impact, is especially good for arthritic knees because it encourages the production and flushing of fluids through the joint, lubricating it and washing away waste products. It is essential that your bike is fitted correctly, especially if you have arthritic joints elsewhere.
Going one better than cycling, swimming is a zero-impact sport, meaning that there is no strain placed on your joints. It proves extremely beneficial for those with arthritis as it works all your muscle groups and builds cardiovascular endurance. It also stretches and lengthens your body, improving your posture, which in turn can help reduce the pressure on the affected joints in daily life.
Being a full-body game which tests most muscle groups, tennis is an excellent activity for all ages. Although certain elements of the game are high impact, which can be incompatible with arthritis, there are many modifications that can be made to your style of play to accommodate arthritic joints. Firstly, it is recommended that you play on softer surfaces, such as clay, to reduce the pressure on weight-bearing joints. To make your tennis playing comfortable and successful, test and select the appropriate racket size, weight and stiffness; string type and tension; and grip size. Finally, learning proper swing mechanics is the most important thing you can do to protect your wrists, shoulders and back. Keeping all of this in mind, there’s no reason why someone with arthritis can’t continue to play.
As well as promoting relaxation, yoga is a gentle, low-impact exercise which has proven popular in recent years, both among seniors and those living with arthritis. Some helpful adjustments can be made to manage pain also. Use props such as blocks, folded blankets and straps to personalize your yoga practice and make it more comfortable. Poses can be modified by not going “deep” into the positions or overstretching. Wherever you live, there is usually a variety of classes for all abilities, and most yoga teachers are more than willing to work with you to find pose variations and modifications to accommodate your arthritis.