The Benefits of Exercise for Osteoarthritis

  • Aging is inevitable; osteoarthritis is not. Despite popular belief, osteoarthritis is really a problem that has more to do with joint health and repair capabilities then it has to do with aging. Thus, you can do something about osteoarthritis like eat right and exercise. Exercise is a great way to improve joint health and repair capabilities. Exercise is great way to prevent and treat the pain from an inflamed joint because circulation, strength and endurance are all important factors for keeping those joints moving with less pain.


    Aerobic exercise is probably is single most important type of exercise. By virtue of increasing the heart rate for a sustained period of time, the blood circulation and tissue oxygenation improves. With more blood and oxygen, tiny micro-injuries in the joint cartilage and bones can heal at a faster rate and more healing means less wear and tear over time.  Aerobic activity also is an important step towards any weight loss program, a key ingredient for treating osteoarthritis. And losing weight is still the best way to reduce joint pain.

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    The skeletal system is only designed to support a certain amount of weight. Muscle strength can help to a certain degree which is another reason why exercise is important for joint health. The muscles help to support weight, help to support movement, and help to maintain proper joint alignment. When the body becomes deconditioned from lack of activity and exercise, the entire skeletal system can start to fall apart, starting with the joints. Without good muscle tone, the joint alignment can become misaligned and that leads to more clunking, grinding and clicking as the joint attempts to move through its normal range of motion. Exercise can help to prevent muscle weakness that promotes joint degeneration.


    But what good is muscle strength without endurance? For whatever activity you want to do, you need both the strength and endurance to do it. If you have not been training for your life activities, you will not be able to do them comfortably. Whether your activities include childcare, shopping, selling, or building, you need to train for your life. Your muscles need the stamina to keep going for sustained periods of time while you are working, playing and exercising.  


    If joint pain is preventing you from starting an exercise program, here are some tips. First, you need to stop the fear of movement from stopping you. Being too scared to move is not helping your situation and is not helping you to survive. Second, find a way to exercise that does not cause a significant amount of discomfort. Some people do well with stationary bicycles or elliptical machines. Others do well in the pool. Even Tai Chi is a great way to help those arthritic joints. If you prefer to walk, try walking with the support of Trekking Poles or a Walking Stick. If you are still having difficulty starting an exercise program, talk to your doctor or physical therapist to find medications, exercise techniques and/or injections that can help jump start your exercise program for life.


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    Exercise should be a lifestyle habit that you intend to do for the rest of your life. Like the daily habits of brushing your teeth or taking a bath, you would not want to go very long without doing some exercise too. Not only will your joints feel better, you will feel better with more oxygen, more strength and more endurance that support not only your joints but also the rest of your body. Instead of thinking that you cannot do anything about osteoarthritis, try to empower yourself by exercising for life.


Published On: December 12, 2011