When it comes to exercise, sometimes less is more. Research suggests a workout that’s just 15 minutes can pay off – if you do it right. These workouts often involve high-intensity interval training (HIIT) – short bursts of hard effort, which have been shown to burn more calories than the slow and steady approach, says Matt Likins, an orthopedic physical therapist and partner of 1st Choice Physical Therapy in Michigan.
Think video games are just for kids and couch potatoes? Think again. Some games incorporate exercise, getting players up and moving. Called “exergaming,” this trend is on the rise in homes, gyms, physical therapy offices and rehabilitation centers.
Made popular by the Nintendo Wii, these interactive games use a handheld controller or sensors to track your body’s movement. That puts you in the game: You swing your arm to hit a baseball, jab in a boxing match or dance to earn points.
The air is crisp. The leaves are changing colors. You’re in a great walking groove. But the days are getting shorter. The temps are getting colder. Don’t let the changing seasons get you off track. Nothing’s worth compromising your health.
“We know that walking is important for people with arthritis for a number of reasons, from reducing pain and fatigue to preventing weight gain and boosting your mood,” says Michael Mantell, PhD, a spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise. Try these strategies to keep your feet moving this fall:
Arthritis Today readers answer the question: What should you be doing for your arthritis?
» Exercise, definitely. But I am so tired all the time. I feel better when I get going, but making myself go for a walk is hard! —Pauline Turner
Mini-trampoline classes, also called “rebounding,” have gotten buzz lately. During class, each person jumps and runs in place, often to music, on his own trampoline. Fans say these fast-paced workouts torch calories and strengthen muscles with less impact than on a hard surface, says physical therapist Scott Euype, education director at Cleveland Clinic’s Rehabilitation & Sports Therapy.
However, you should be cautious before hopping on this bandwagon. If you jump too high or fast, the force may harm an already inflamed or damaged joint. Plus, “the landing surface is unstable, so you could turn an ankle or hurt your knee,” says Mary Ann Wilmarth, owner of Back2Back Physical Therapy in Andover, Massachusetts, and a spokesperson for the American Physical Therapy Association. Check with your doctor before you try rebounding. (Avoid it if you’ve had joint replacement in your feet, ankles, knees or hips unless your doctor has given the OK.)
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.
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.
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.
Gardening has an abundance of health benefits including keeping you physically active and helping to lower anxiety and depression, both of which are linked to arthritis. Using the right tips and tools for the job can help ease any gardening task. Our experts share how to grow your green thumb.