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Tips for Exercising with Arthritis

For people with arthritis, physical activity is rarely something to look forward to. Joint pain can make even the simplest activity agonizing, so people are always looking for ways to both alleviate arthritis symptoms and keep from exacerbating them. It may seem like exercise will cause joint pain, but in reality, a sedentary lifestyle can make arthritis symptoms worse by weakening the muscles that support the bones & joints. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to make arthritis less problematic while keeping yourself active. Using the following habits & exercise techniques, you can increase strength, improve flexibility, reduce joint pain, and advance overall health.

At Village Park Senior Living, we offer various accommodations (found here on our Lifestyle & Amenities page) designed to facilitate physical activity for seniors. Before you start an exercise regimen, talk to your doctor about what might be the safest & most effective plan for you. Together, you can formulate a routine that may consist of some combination of the following:

  • By helping to support & protect your joints, strengthening exercises can help prevent arthritis symptoms from developing or worsening. Here are some fundamentals about strengthening exercises to keep in mind:
    • Use very light weights when you first begin.
    • Emphasize using proper form.
    • Learn from a professional.
    • Incrementally increase the amount of resistance by adding more weight.
    • Stay within your comfort zone
    • Take at least a day off between exercises to let your muscles heal.
    • If you feel any pain or have swelling in your joints, take an extra day or two off and decrease the amount of weight/resistance you’re using. Taking on more weight than you’re prepared to handle can be extremely dangerous.
  • Low-impact aerobic exercise, such as walking, swimming, or using a stationary bicycle or elliptical machine, is easy on the joints and beneficial to overall health (and may help seniors stay independent for longer). A healthy, safe amount of aerobic exercise can help increase strength & flexibility and reduce joint pain. Furthermore, aerobic exercise can help reduce stress on the joints by being part of a healthy weight-management program. Make sure you adequately stretch before & after you do exercise of any kind, avoid overexerting yourself, and allow yourself plenty of time to recover.
  • You can perform certain range-of-motion exercises virtually any place, any time. Exercises such as gently rolling your shoulders forward and backward, raising your arms and/or legs up & down, and some types of stretching can be done from your couch. There’s a seemingly endless variety of stretches, poses, & motions you can appropriate from things like yoga & Tai Chi; you might even decide to enroll in a yoga or Tai Chi class (just make sure your instructor knows about your arthritis and that you need low-impact, gentle exercise). You can generally do these exercises every day without getting sore or risking injury, but it’s still important to pace yourself and gradually increase your difficulty level.

Here at Village Park, we offer truly independent senior living options, as well as a number of social & physical activities designed specifically for people of retirement age. If you’re interested in learning more about assisted living, independent living, memory care, or any of the many programs, activities, and living options we offer, please contact Village Park Senior Living for more information. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook for updates and to check back often for new blogs.