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Don't Hibernate This Winter: The Importance of Getting Exercise When You Have Arthritis

When the weather outside is frightful and your joints are aching, you may be tempted to curl up on the couch and just wait ou

With winter comes cold temperatures and short, gray days that are hardly calling you to get out and exercise. If you’re one of the millions of Americans who suffer from achy, stiff joints at the hands of arthritis, the temptation becomes smaller still. The fact is that winter is no time to throw in the towel and curl up on the couch. In fact, with some modest exercise, you can greet the warmer months with a spring in your step.

At Lafferty Family Care, Dr. Scott Lafferty and our team partner with our patients to provide them with the tools they need for better living. And when it comes to arthritis, there are many ways to offset the pain and limited motion, including exercise.

So, don’t hibernate this winter. Instead, use this time to improve your joint health and keep your arthritis from creating further damage.

Arthritis and exercise

There are more than 100 different types of arthritis, but they all have one thing in common — they cause pain and inflammation in your joints. With most forms of arthritis, one of the best weapons you have for maintaining your joint health is through exercise.

The old saw, “Use it or lose it,” certainly applies when it comes to your joints, which are designed to move. We understand that the thought of exercising with painful joints seems counterintuitive, but the fact is that it’s one of the best ways to retain function.

By activating your joints, you let your body know that you intend to use them, and your body responds with better resources from within. When you’re inactive, so is your body when it comes to healing.

Exercise for strength and flexibility

Many of our patients ask which types of exercises are best for offsetting arthritis, and the answer is that most types of exercise are beneficial.

But to give you more clear-cut goals, your exercise regimen should focus on several key areas:

Strength

Arthritis causes a breakdown in your joints, which is where bones come together. To help take the pressure off of your joints, you should concentrate on strengthening the muscles surrounding them. By beefing up the muscles, you spread out the workload in your joints, tapping healthier tissues to pick up the slack. And the best part? You can strengthen your joints in a warm gym or from the comforts of your own home with a few weights.

Stretching

Another important goal in exercising arthritic joints is to retain range of motion. Arthritis can cause increasing stiffness within your joints, and the best way to fight back is through gentle stretching exercises that encourage more flexibility and range of motion.

One of the best ways to introduce more range of motion in your body is through yoga. There are classes for every level, so don’t be concerned about just getting started. As well, you can dial up some yoga classes on your TV if you want to stay at home.

Losing weight

Another great byproduct of exercising with arthritis is that you can lose a few pounds, decreasing the weight your joints have to carry. A great way to do this is through aerobic exercise, which can be as simple as a daily walk around your neighborhood.

Getting started

If you’re at all unsure about where to start, our first piece of advice is “anywhere.” Just pick up a weight, go for a walk, or sign up for a gym membership. Every little step you take is one that will benefit your joints.

If your joints are just too painful, make an appointment to come see us so that we can relieve some of your immediate discomfort, which will enable you to get moving.

If you have more questions about exercising with arthritis this winter, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Call our office in Bentonville, Arkansas, or use the online booking tool to make an appointment.

 

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