How to maintain an active life with arthritis
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