Stretching, strengthening, aerobic exercise and balance techniques are the mainstays for managing arthritis.
Flexibility exercises are an important part of managing arthritis.
Stretching will help you loosen up and experience less pain at other times in the day.
Not moving our joints fully can cause them to become more stiff and painful over time.
The exercises involve bending and straightening your joints as much as is comfortable to keep them flexible and reduce the risk of any loss of mobility.
“When doing stretching exercises, you should try to move your joints as far as you comfortably can, until you feel a stretch in the muscles around the joint.
“Try to keep the movement slow and controlled.”
Alternatively, you could try yoga and tai chi classes online or in person.
Strengthening exercises keep the muscles around your joints strong and secure, helping to reduce pain in the joints and the tissues around them.
The only time strengthening exercises don’t work for arthritis is if your joints are hot or swollen.
Changes to our muscles can happen very quickly – you might notice that you feel weaker or wobbly even after a few days of rest if you’ve been unwell with a cold or flu.
To strengthen your muscles, you simply need to move against some form of resistance.
Even things like standing up from a chair will mean you’re strengthening your leg muscles because you’re working against gravity.
Start strengthening exercises slowly and build up how much you do gently.
Start with a low number of repetitions of different strengthening exercises and add to this over time.
Your muscles should feel tired and like they have done some work after the exercises.
You should aim to do some strengthening exercises on at least two days a week.
Pilates and tai chi are other examples of strengthening exercises.
You can’t just be strong and flexible, you have to be physically fit too to help you live longer.
Aerobic exercises improve your strength, balance and range of movement while improving your heart and lung health.
Try cycling, swimming, exercise classes, or walking to get you breathing more quickly and your heart beating faster.
Swimming is particularly good for arthritis as less weight is put on your joints.
Balance exercises twice a week will reduce your risk of falls, frailty and complications as you age.
There are specific balance exercises that can help, but things like playing bowls, doing tai chi or dancing – either at classes or around your home – improve balance too.
If practising your balance at home, make sure the area around you is clear of anything that could trip you up.
No matter what exercise you choose, The Arthritis Foundation recommends going slow and steady.
f you’ve been on the couch for six months and you haven’t been moving, you shouldn’t go and walk two miles tomorrow.
Start from where you are, don’t leap ahead and start from where you really want to be.
If you start slow and work up to more, most of the time the pain is not too bad.
If you’re always at a four and you go to a six after exercise then it’s probably fine, but if you go to an eight after you exercise that is not good.
Learn what your thresholds are because you want to be able to maintain that.
Tailor your workout routine to your goals, abilities and where you are now and keep it up to see improvement.