Arthritis myth 1: you can't exercise
If you have arthritis, the right fitness programme could help you get relief from your symptoms by improving strength, balance, flexibility and range of motion. “If you have arthritis, it’s important to stay as active as you can,” says physiotherapist Karen Gordon.
TIP Experts recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise five days a week. Dust off your bike, buy a new bathing suit, start strength training – get moving in the ways that bring you the most happiness.
Arthritis myth 2: exercise produces joint pain
The more sedentary you are, the more things are going to hurt. Exercise helps by building strength and flexibility and controlling weight, says Gordon. One less kilogram on the scale equals four kilograms less pressure on your knees. Alternate easy days with more challenging days. Gordon suggests swimming or using an exercise bike when pain is more bothersome.
TIP To help with painful, swollen knees, wear a brace. Stiffness could be a sign you need to start moving to lubricate your joints. Always consult a healthcare professional prior to starting an exercise regimen.
Arthritis myth 3: pain is always a bad thing
It’s better to regard pain as a signal to pay attention. Over-the-counter pain relievers can help relieve soreness after exercise; taking them beforehand may mask the instructive sensation you need to feel to judge when to stop.
TIP Stop what you’re doing if joint pain increases after five or ten minutes, says Gordon. Burning discomfort in the muscles, however, is a good thing.
Arthritis myth 4: exercise puts joints at risk
Exercise strengthens joint-supporting muscles. Movement lubricates squeaky joints, strengthens muscles and increases flexibility, which all improve quality of life – and not just for those with arthritis.
TIP Studies show weight-bearing exercise – walking, jogging or lifting weights – produces the healthiest knee cartilage. If sore joints are impeding your workout, you can still head for the pool, where you can jog, squat and do lunges in the water.
Arthritis myth 5: follow a restrictive exercise regime
Arthritis sufferers can engage safely in a variety of physical activities. Low-impact activities such as swimming, aquatic exercise, cycling and walking are excellent options. But, so too is running – if it doesn’t cause you pain when you do it or for days afterwards. Listen to your joints and make appropriate modifications.
TIP As a rule, walk, don’t run if you have osteoarthritis, and avoid high-impact, twisting racquet sports.