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Impact Of Physical Activity On Osteoarthritis

It is widely believed that doing physical activity with osteoarthritis may pose a risk to the bones and joints, but studies have indicated otherwise. Specialists strongly recommend patients with this condition, to perform regular physical activities since this is considered to be the best and most efficient way of counteracting the symptoms of osteoarthritis, providing both pain relief and better motion.

There are a number of exercises which offer better mobility and flexibility to osteoarthritis patients:

  • Physical Activity for the range of motion, involves the extent of movement of a joint. The main objective of these exercises is to acquire the flexibility that joints are expected to reach. Among these, there are stretching exercises which greatly help in achieving complete extension of the joints. If these exercises are carried out frequently, they provide more flexibility and keep joints and muscles in their best state.
  • Resistance training is fundamental to make the heart stronger and allow the lungs to work more efficiently. Exercises such as swimming, jogging, dancing, riding a bicycle and walking, significantly benefit the body by decreasing exhaustion and improving endurance.  Moreover, resistance training helps the patient to maintain a healthy weight by boosting calorie burn.  Therefore, the persons doing these types of exercises can burn more calories than what they consume.
  • Strength training not only fortifies the muscles, but also provides protection and support for arthritis-affected joints.
  • There are two specific kinds of physical activities which are suitable for those suffering from osteoarthritis: Walking and water workouts:
  • Walking is one of the best exercises to perform when suffering from osteoarthritis. This exercise is accessible to everybody since it has no cost. Walking offers multiple advantages and is a low-impact activity; hence it does not affect the joints. One of the biggest benefits of walking is that it greatly boosts blood flow, prevents cardiovascular problems, decreases blood pressure and because it is also an aerobic activity, makes the heart stronger. Walking also tones up the supportive muscles of the joints and significantly decreases the likelihood of fractures by hindering bone mass loss.
  •  Water workouts are the ideal choice for those who have never worked out before or have gained a considerable amount of weight and want to incorporate exercise in their lives.  Contrary to what is often believed, water workouts do not involve swimming. They are carried out in shoulder-deep water, normally in a standing position. The water alleviates the pressure of the weight on the joints due to its buoyancy force, also improving muscle endurance and strength at the same time. Frequently performing water workouts can alleviate pain and improve functioning of the hip and knee affected by osteoarthritis.

What is the recommended amount of exercise for a patient suffering from osteoarthritis?

Regular exercise is imperative to better manage osteoarthritis.  However, it is always advisable to consult a specialist before starting a workout routine. It is normally recommended to perform physical activities daily, but it all depends on what doctors suggest.

It is often recommended to perform 150 minutes of aerobic exercises per week, maintaining a moderate-to-intense session or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise intensity. A combination of both can also be done. This means for example:

  • Walking briskly for 30 minutes or riding a bicycle five times a week
  • Going swimming or jogging for 25 minutes/3 times a week. (These will greatly increase the heart rate)

Or a combination of both activities. All depends on what you prefer and are capable of doing.

Working out is undoubtedly an excellent choice, but it is also important to understand that one must work out smarter, not harder. Exercises such as swimming, walking, cycling and jogging, offer low-impact movements and are the best options for those who suffer from osteoarthritis. If high-impact physical activities are also undertaken, then specialists recommend performing these from time to time and on softer surfaces.

In conclusion, it has been proven that light to moderate workouts are highly advantageous for those suffering from osteoarthritis and are the best alternative to using osteoarthritis medications. Nevertheless, every person is unique and has different capabilities.  Therefore, consulting a specialist is always a good choice. A doctor or a therapist will be able to provide the patient with the most accurate workout routine to satisfy his/her specific needs.

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