How to main­tain an ac­tive life with arthri­tis

Cynon Valley - - HEALTH CHECK WALES -

EX­ER­CISES can help to strengthen and sup­port joints, ease pain and re­duce the im­pact that arthri­tis may oth­er­wise have on your life.

It is a myth to think that you have to stop all types of ex­er­cise if you have arthri­tis. The key mes­sage is that small changes to your ex­er­cise regime and life­style can help you to con­tinue to live an ac­tive life.

The com­mon con­di­tion of arthri­tis af­fects the joints of the body. It is part of the nor­mal age­ing process and af­fects around 10 mil­lion peo­ple in the UK, eight mil­lion of whom have age-linked os­teoarthri­tis, mainly seen in the over-40s. It can cause pain and in­flam­ma­tion in the joints which of­ten deters peo­ple from keep­ing fit and ac­tive. Move­ment is im­por­tant, though, to keep joints healthy.

Ceri Mor­gan, se­nior gen­eral man­ager for Nuffield Health Brid­gend and Cwm­bran Fit­ness and Well­be­ing Gyms, ex­plained: “Many peo­ple think that a di­ag­no­sis of arthri­tis means they will be­come pro­gres­sively de­bil­i­tated. Keep­ing mo­bile is the best pro­tec­tion from stiff­ness to de­ter pain.

“The good news is that there are ben­e­fits for arthri­tis suf­fer­ers across all ex­er­cise types so there is some­thing for ev­ery­one. The most im­por­tant thing is to choose an ex­er­cise that you en­joy, so that you are more likely to keep it up.

“You should start grad­u­ally and build up the du­ra­tion and in­ten­sity over a pe­riod of six to 12 weeks. This will al­low your body to adapt and strengthen over time and re­duce the risk of fur­ther in­jury.

“Cy­cling on an in­door bike can be good for hip and knee arthri­tis, mo­bil­is­ing the joints and boost­ing your car­dio­vas­cu­lar sys­tem. This boosts your heart rate and lung ca­pac­ity, which is use­ful be­cause it sup­ports a healthy im­mune sys­tem, help­ing to re­duce in­flam­ma­tion and pain in the joints.

“Ex­er­cis­ing in water can be use­ful, es­pe­cially if your con­di­tion is re­ally painful, as the water takes the load off the joints, while pro­vid­ing gen­tle re­sis­tance to strengthen the mus­cles around them. A warm pool can be par­tic­u­larly sooth­ing. Strength train­ing, build­ing up grad­u­ally, us­ing ei­ther body­weight, fixed or free weights can help to strengthen the mus­cles around your joints, leav­ing them stronger.”

Tak­ing a mea­sured ap­proach to your life­style in gen­eral by en­sur­ing you get plenty of sleep and eat­ing well and ex­er­cis­ing a lit­tle ev­ery day, even a 1% im­prove­ment, can make a huge dif­fer­ence to your life. Some peo­ple find that wear­ing an ex­er­cise tracker can serve as ad­di­tional mo­ti­va­tion, giv­ing you ev­i­dence that you are mak­ing a dif­fer­ence to your health.

Nuffield Health Brid­gend and Cwm­bran Fit­ness and Well­be­ing Gyms are cur­rently of­fer­ing a free day pass so you can have a taster ses­sion. Find more de­tails at www. nuffield­health.com/gyms/brid­gend

Join us at Nuffield Health Vale Hospi­tal, Hen­sol Cas­tle Park, for evening events on Tues­day, Novem­ber 14 and 21 or our open day on Sun­day, Novem­ber 26 be­tween 10am and 3pm. The evening events will deal with painful hands, wrists and backs. At the open day, you can see in­side our op­er­at­ing the­atres and wards, use equip­ment and meet our sur­geons. To book your free place, ring 029 2083 6714.

Gym mem­bers us­ing watt bikes at Nuffield Health Brid­gend

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