What is Arthritis?
Arthritis is a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It causes inflammation and pain in the joints, leading to stiffness, decreased mobility, and reduced quality of life. Exercise is a key component of managing arthritis and has been shown to improve joint function, reduce pain, and increase physical activity levels. This article aims to explore the benefits of exercise for people with arthritis.
Benefits of exercise
Exercise has numerous benefits for people with arthritis. Regular physical activity has been found to reduce joint pain and stiffness, improve joint function and mobility, and reduce the risk of disability. A systematic review by Kelley et al. (2018) found that exercise programmes, including aerobic exercise, resistance training, and aquatic exercise, reduced pain and improved physical function, and quality of life in people with knee and hip osteoarthritis.
Aerobic exercise, such as walking, cycling, and swimming, has been found to improve cardiovascular fitness and reduce pain and stiffness in people with arthritis (Huffman et al., 2018). Resistance training, which involves using weights or resistance bands, has also been found to improve joint function and muscle strength in people with arthritis (Cheung et al., 2018). Aquatic exercise, which involves exercising in water, has been found to reduce pain and improve physical function in people with arthritis (Bartels et al., 2016).
Exercise has also been found to have psychological benefits for people with arthritis. Regular physical activity has been found to reduce depression and anxiety symptoms and improve overall quality of life (Treharne et al., 2007). Exercise programmes that incorporate mindfulness techniques, such as yoga or tai chi, have been found to reduce stress and improve mental well-being in people with arthritis (Park et al., 2018).
Types of Exercise
The type of exercise recommended for people with arthritis depends on the type and severity of arthritis, as well as individual preferences and abilities. Low-impact activities such as swimming, cycling, and walking are generally recommended as they are less likely to cause joint pain and injury. Resistance training is also recommended as it helps to build muscle strength and protect joints.
Exercise intensity is also important. Moderate-intensity exercise has been found to be most effective in improving pain and function in people with arthritis (Brosseau et al., 2015). However, exercise intensity should be individualised and based on a person’s fitness level and abilities.
Exercise is a key component of managing arthritis and has numerous benefits for people with arthritis. Regular physical activity has been found to reduce pain, improve joint function and mobility, and reduce the risk of disability. Aerobic exercise, resistance training, and aquatic exercise are all effective in achieving these benefits. Exercise programmes should be individualised and monitored by exercise professionals to ensure safety and effectiveness.
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Bartels, E. M., Juhl, C. B., Christensen, R., Hagen, K. B., Danneskiold-Samsøe, B., Dagfinrud, H., & Lund, H. (2016). Aquatic exercise for the treatment of knee and hip osteoarthritis. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.
- Brosseau, L., Wells, G. A., Kenny, G. P., Reid, R., Maetzel, A., Tugwell, P., & Cochrane Musculoskeletal Group. (2015). The implementation of a community-based aerobic walking program for mild to moderate knee osteoarthritis (OA): A knowledge translation (KT) randomized controlled trial (RCT): Part I: The uptake of the Ottawa panel clinical recommendations. BMC Public Health.
- Cheung, C., Wyman, J. F., Bronas, U., & McCarthy, C. (2018). Resistance exercise for management of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis: A systematic review. Physical Therapy.
- Huffman, K. M., Jessee, R., Andonian, B., Davis, B. N., Narowski, R., Huebner, J. L., . . . Kraus, V. B. (2018). Molecular alterations in skeletal muscle in rheumatoid arthritis are related to disease activity, physical inactivity, and disability. Arthritis Research & Therapy.
- Kelley, G. A., Kelley, K. S., & Hootman, J. M. (2018). Effects of exercise on arthritis: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Arthritis Care & Research.
- Park, J., McCaffrey, R., Newman, D., & Cheung, C. (2018). The effects of yoga and tai chi on physical function and mental health in people with arthritis: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Aging and Physical Activity.
- Treharne, G. J., Lyons, A. C., Booth, D. A., & Kitas, G. D. (2007). Psychological well-being across 1 year with rheumatoid arthritis: Coping resources as buffers of perceived stress. British Journal of Health Psychology.