Arthritis is a collective term referring to diseases that primarily affect the body’s skin and joints. The most common forms of arthritis include osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Symptoms often manifest as joint stiffness and pain associated with movement around those joints. For many years, patients were advised to limit physical activity and exercise in an effort to avoid pain. In recent years, however, scientists have discovered that exercise, when done properly, is beneficial in treating the symptoms of arthritis. In fact, research has shown that arthritis patients who participate in regular exercise experience reduced pain, increased energy, and improved function during daily activities. As a bonus, regular exercise prevents stiffness, strengthens supporting muscles around joints, and improves overall fitness.
These new studies provide hope for improved quality of life for individuals suffering from this condition. However, caution should be observed when deciding what type of exercise program to engage in. It is essential to get clearance from your doctor and seek guidance from a qualified fitness professional. Arthritis exercise program design requires a depth of knowledge beyond the basics of many fitness level certifications. Well qualified trainers should have an understanding of what types of exercises are beneficial for arthritis sufferers as well as how to safely progress those exercises. According to American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), a properly designed arthritis exercise plan should include the four components shown below.
- Aerobic exercise helps improve overall fitness and involves non-impact or low impact activities such as walking, water aerobics, swimming, or biking. Depending on your existing level of fitness, start slowly and gradually increase pace, intensity, and/or time.
- Resistance training can increase the strength of muscles that support joints. When using weighted exercises, begin with relatively low resistance (about 10% of your maximum effort) and progress at no more than 5-10% per week.
- Flexibility exercises can lengthen stiff muscles and connective tissues at and around joints leading to increased pain free range of motion. Flexibility exercises should be performed daily and can consist of static stretching, yoga or active assisted stretching.
- Balance exercises can improve posture, coordination, and joint function. Examples of this less often recognized form of exercise are tai chi, qui gong, and certain forms of yoga.
If you are not comfortable with or not financially able to hire a Certified Exercise Professional, the Senior Fit & Well Exercise Program provided by ReversAge Health & Fitness may be a good option for you. The Senior Fit & Well Programs are expertly designed 3 to 12 week exercise plans for mature individuals who wish to build the foundation for regular physical activity, continued independence, and improved quality of life. Split into three phases (beginner to advanced) these exercise plans specifically designed to help you:
- Promote aerobic fitness, improve balance, build bone strength, and increase flexibility
- Slow the physiologic changes associated with aging
- Improve age-related changes in body composition
- Improve functional strength during activities of daily living
- Regain youthful energy levels
Each program of the Senior Fit & Well series lasts three weeks and is designed to allow you to progress at your own pace. As your fitness level, pain-free range of motion, energy, and strength improves you can advance to the next phase in the Senior Fit & Well series. Because these programs were created by advanced fitness experts, you can be confident the exercises you are doing are safe and effective. For even better results, consider adding the ReversAge Anti-Inflammatory Nutrition Plan and enjoy healthy meals that make it easier to live pain-free.