It was thought for many years that if you had arthritis, you should not exercise because it would damage your joints.
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Now, however, research has shown that exercise is an essential tool in managing your arthritis. Elaine Husni, MD, is a rheumatologist at Cleveland Clinic’s Orthopaedic & Rheumatologic Institute. She says exercise will do more good than harm.
“A lot of people say, ‘I have arthritis. How can I exercise? I feel worse the next day. How could this be good for you?’ But … you have to keep your joints moving if you want to keep them healthy,” Dr. Husni says.
Dr. Husni says exercise:
- Reduces joint pain and stiffness
- Builds strong muscle around the joints
- Ideally includes exercise for flexibility, strength, aerobics and endurance
She says the key is not to take on too much too soon and to find exercises that you enjoy.
Dr. Husni adds that if you’re not sure about starting an exercise plan on land, try the water. She says water-based therapy may work better for you because you’re buoyant and can start slowly. She says it’s about finding an exercise program that works for you.
“If you’re really feeling it the next day, pain all over is getting a lot worse, then you want to modify it back a little bit. So, instead of exercising every other day, we might want to go down to once a week until that body part heals,” Dr. Husni says.
Dr. Husni says whatever exercise program you decide upon, consult your doctor first. Then, you can enjoy the benefits of exercise, even if you have arthritis.