When you suffer from arthritis, it can feel like every area of your body hurts. You may feel like just curling up on the couch with a heating pad, or binge watching your favorite television shows. Pain can make it difficult to clean the house, get dressed, or chase after your kids.
That’s why starting an exercise program is so important. It’s often less painful to keep your joints in a bent position. This may work temporarily, but if it becomes a habit, you may experience permanent loss of mobility. According to Doreen M. Stiskal, Chair of the Department of Physical Therapy at Seton Hall University, “exercise eases inflammation, improves energy, and promotes the flow of pain-relieving chemicals like endorphins.”
Range of motion exercises gently stretch the muscles as far as they will comfortably go, and with each passing day, your joints feel less painful. Warm up with these exercises before you engage in any physical activity.
Start slowly and aim for 30 minutes of exercise a day. You can also break it down into three ten-minute sessions. If you aren’t comfortable working out at the gym, try an exercise CD at home such as the Arthritis Foundation’s “Take Control with Exercise.”
Give yourself credit for small changes such as taking the stairs, parking further away from your destination, or walking 20 minutes without a break.
Invest in a comfortable pair of shoes with arch supports. A walking or running store can ensure you get a proper fit. When you’re trying on shoes, wear your workout socks, and walk around in them for at least ten minutes.
Since you’re just starting out, check out indoor malls, gyms, or the YWCA that have an indoor walking track. You can exercise without too many interruptions, and you won’t have to worry about being outside during bad weather.
Don’t forget to do some resistance training. It may seem like lifting weights will be more painful, but that is not the case. A physical therapist or personal trainer can show you the proper form, and match the weights you lift with your current strength level.