Category Archives: Exercise

arthritis exercise recommendations

Exercise: It’s Just What Your Doctor Should Order

Doctors should routinely talk to all arthritis patients about the importance of physical activity and exercise, according to new recommendations from the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR). The recommendations, which received near-unanimous approval from an international team of experts, were published in July in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

In EULAR’s broad definition, physical activity includes exercise, sports, physical labor and ordinary chores like washing the car or gardening. According to the task force, physical activity is safe and effective for people with every type of arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA), spondyloarthritis (SpA), and hip and knee osteoarthritis (OA) and should be a key part of standard patient care.

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arthritis-friendly elliptical exercise

Elliptical Machines Go Easy on Your Joints

Keep your body moving if you have arthritis. Exercise can reduce joint pain and stiffness as well as improve strength and balance.

But what type of exercise is best? An elliptical trainer is a good option. This minimal weight-bearing stationary exercise machine mimics walking with a gliding motion.

“The elliptical machine can be a beneficial form of exercise for people with knee and hip arthritis because it provides both strengthening and cardiovascular benefits while exerting less force on the joints,” says Maura Daly Iversen, DPT, MPH, a spokesperson for the American Physical Therapy Association and Associate Dean of Clinical Education, Rehabilitation, and New Initiatives at Northeastern University in Boston.

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safe yoga exercise tips

Get the Rewards of Yoga Without the Risks

From easing pain to boosting flexibility, yoga has a long list of benefits for people with arthritis.

“Yoga is as safe as walking when it’s done properly,” says Steffany Moonaz, PhD, founder of Yoga for Arthritis and a research director at Maryland University of Integrative Health.

However, many people do poses incorrectly or without proper support. In fact, a recent study revealed that nearly 11 percent of people who did yoga experienced pain at some point as a result, and 1 in 5 said yoga made an existing injury worse. Stay safe with these simple tips.

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goal setting workouts

Use Goal Setting to Motivate Your Arthritis Workout

You might exercise to improve function, gain strength or slim down. Whatever your reason, “setting a goal can give you focus, confidence and motivation,” says Hannah J. Bennett, a physical therapist with Baylor Scott & White Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation in Round Rock, Texas.

But how can you tell if your workouts are working? The key is making realistic and specific milestones. “Check your progress regularly,” says Bennett. Seeing results can provide motivation – or signal that it’s time to switch things up. Here are four common fitness goals and how to track them.

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arthritis friendly bike riding

Biking is Great For Your Joints

Outdoor or indoor, cycling is one of the most effective workouts for people with arthritis. “The continuous motion that’s part of cycling is very helpful for arthritic joints,” says Joseph Garry, MD, an associate professor in the division of sports medicine at the University of Minnesota.

“The more the joint moves through its full range of motion, the more synovial fluid is produced. This lubricates the joint so you move more easily the rest of the day.” And it’s effective whether you break a sweat or take it easy.

When good weather is calling, then it’s a great time to get started for the first time or back to your regular routine.  If you don’t exercise regularly, start with 10 minutes of cycling at a low resistance, and gradually increase resistance, time and frequency, says Dr. Garry. Your goal should be 20 to 30 minutes of cycling a day.

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arthritis hip and knee pain

Don’t Let Knee or Hip Pain Make You Unsteady

Research shows that people with knee pain have a 25% greater risk of falling than people without pain. It’s also been found that one in three older adults falls each year.  Falls can result in severe injuries, such as hip fractures.

To reduce your risk of falling, improve your balance with exercises that build strength and flexibility, says rheumatologist Rob Keenan, MD, at Duke Medicine in Durham, North Carolina. Improving your response time – that is, how quickly you react to stop yourself from falling – also can help, explains Alexander Aruin, PhD, a professor of physical therapy and bioengineering at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Here are four ways to improve your balance and response time.

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arthritis hula hooping

Mix Up Your Arthritis Workout With Hula Hooping

The popular childhood pastime hula hooping is back as a hot fitness trend. The workouts use heavier hoops – weighing one to five pounds – in fun routines set to music, says Joanne Wu, MD, a physical rehabilitation physician at Unity Spine Center in Rochester, New York, and owner of a wellness consulting company.

Although people with balance disorders shouldn’t try hula-hooping, the exercise is a gentle way to strengthen the core. In fact, Dr. Wu recommends it for her spine patients. “Hooping itself is a low-impact exercise that’s gentle on the joints,” says Dr. Wu. “It builds balance and strength, especially in the core and legs.”

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fusion workouts for arthritis

Go Hybrid for Your Arthritis Workout

Yogalates. Gyrotonics. Piloxing. They may be hard to pronounce, but fusion workouts – which combine moves from two or more disciplines, such as yoga and Pilates (yogalates) or water aerobics and tai chi (ai chi) – are increasingly popular.

“People love fusion fitness because it’s challenging and novel,” says Jessica Matthews, group fitness expert and spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise (ACE) in San Diego and a fitness trainer who has trained people with arthritis.

But is it safe and worth your time? Fusion workouts can introduce you to other forms of exercise. Plus, “if you enjoy a particular type of exercise but are bored with your current routine, it’s a great way to break through the monotony,” says Matthews.

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Strength Training for People With Arthritis

“Building muscle supports and protects joints, which can increase mobility and reduce stiffness and soreness,” says Stanley Wainapel, MD, at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. Research in The Journal of Rheumatology found that people with knee arthritis experienced 42% less pain and 44% more physical function after four months of strength training. Get started with one of these, watch videos and use Your Exercise Solution to learn about exercise modifications specific to your needs.

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