How Exercise Can Improve Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis, the degeneration of joint cartilage, is age-related. Most cases involve stiffness in the knee, hip and thumb joints. But while it is a painful condition, osteoarthritis doesn’t necessarily limit your from physical activity. In fact, the right kind of exercise can improve the condition. Here, from the National Institute on Aging (NIA), is a look at the kinds of exercises you can do and how you’ll benefit from them.

According to the NIA experts, regular exercise can help osteoarthritis sufferers:

*Maintain healthy and strong muscles

*Preserve joint mobility

*Maintain range of motion

*Improve sleep

*Reduce pain

*Keep a positive attitude

*Maintain a healthy body weight

Three types of exercise are best if you have osteoarthritis:

FLEXIBILITY EXERCISES can help keep joints moving, relieve stiffness, and give you more freedom of movement for everyday activities. Examples of flexibility exercises include upper- and lower-body stretching, yoga, and tai chi.

STRENGTHENING EXERCISES will help you maintain or add to your muscle strength. Strong muscles support and protect joints. Weight-bearing exercises, such as weight lifting, fall into this category. You can use bottles of water or soup cans if you don’t have weights.

ENDURANCE EXERCISES make the heart and arteries healthier and may lessen swelling in some joints. Try low-impact options such as swimming and biking.

Before beginning any exercise program, talk with your health care provider about the best activities for you.

Reprinted with permission of the National Institute on Aging. For more information on Go4Life, the NIA’s senior fitness program, visit www.nia.nih.gov/Go4Life.

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