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The Best Forms of Exercise for Effective Osteoarthritis Management

The Best Forms of Exercise for Effective Osteoarthritis Management

Living with chronic pain isn’t easy, especially when it’s due to osteoarthritis. However, the very symptoms slowing you down are also the ones that benefit the most from every day exercise. In fact, it’s one of the most effective options available for natural pain and symptom relief. 

This month, our team at MidJersey Orthopaedics (MJO) is taking a moment to highlight the importance of regular exercise for arthritis management. But don’t worry — you don’t need a bunch of fancy tools or an expensive gym membership. Instead, you can start these activities at home today.

Get your heart pumping with low-impact activities

When you think about working out, do you picture pounding the pavement or hitting the gym? Trust us — we think there’s a better way. 

If you have osteoarthritis, the last thing you should do is repeatedly slam your feet against hard surfaces. It may get your heart pounding, but it only adds to the stress your body weight puts on your damaged joints. Instead, choose low-impact options. 

Low-impact cardiovascular exercises can still get your heart pumping, but they don’t put as much stress on your joints. The best places to start include walking, cycling, and swimming. The best part? You can lose weight safely, improve cardiovascular health, and strengthen the muscles around your arthritic joints all at the same time — critical components of osteoarthritis management.

Focus on building muscle strength

People often focus on cardiovascular activities when exercise comes up, but building and maintaining muscle strength is equally important.

Resistance training activities focus on strengthening your surrounding muscles — the tissue that supports and protects your joints. For many people, it also eases the pain and stiffness that often goes hand-in-hand with osteoarthritis. 

There are several resistance training exercises, like lifting weights and using resistance bands. However, you can also do bodyweight exercises — think squats and lunges — to get results as effective. 

When building muscle strength, the most important thing is to take your time. Start with lighter weights, slowly increasing the weight you use. This approach helps you avoid potential injuries and additional strain on your damaged joints. 

Lean into stretching

Think you have to break a sweat to get results? Think again! 

When you have arthritis, it’s crucial to build an effective stretching program. Adding regular stretching into your exercise program offers numerous benefits, from improving your flexibility and range of motion to helping arthritic joints move more efficiently and with less stiffness. 

It’s also easy to get started with stretching. Our favorite options include yoga and Pilates, but you can even do simple static stretches, like touching your toes. Simply hold each position for about 30 seconds. While you do, remember to listen to your body to avoid overextending your muscles.

Add a splash of fun — hit the pool

When it comes to osteoarthritis exercises, nothing beats hopping in the water. Exercising in water creates buoyancy, which takes pressure off of your joints. That makes it the perfect joint-protecting exercise for people with osteoarthritis.

Plus, exercising in the water combines the muscle-building benefits of resistance training with the safety of a low-impact workout. And it’s fun! Add a splash to your osteoarthritis routine with activities like water aerobics, pool walking, and swimming. 

Take it slow with tai chi

Working harder isn’t necessarily better. In fact, sometimes it’s better to slow things down and focus on gentle movements and breathing — that’s where tai chi comes out on top. 

Tai chi exercises focus on slow-motion movements, physical postures, and controlled breathing that can help improve balance, joint flexibility, and help lower fall risks. And it comes with an added bonus: It promotes a meditative state of mind that can also reduce stress. 

Looking for other mind-body workouts? Try yoga or Pilates. 

Stay smart 

Exercise is one of the best steps you can take to manage osteoarthritis. However, if you aren’t careful, you can end up with more pain than where you started. 

Whenever you engage in exercise, it’s crucial to follow these general guidelines, especially when trying a new activity or just getting started:

It’s also important to support your body with plenty of hydration and a healthy diet. If you need help, we can create a personalized health plan and guide you through your program. 

Want to see how exercise can help your achy joints? Call or message us to schedule a consultation at MidJersey Orthopaedics in Flemington, Bridgewater, or Washington, New Jersey today.

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