Got Arthritis? MOVE!
If you have arthritis, one of the best things you can do to maintain joint function is to move.
“Moves that specifically target arthritic joints can help you preserve strength and flexibility in those joints for as long as possible,” says David C. Thomas, MD, professor of medicine and rehabilitation medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital, New York. “Physical activity may help you avoid the weight gain that taxes larger weight bearing joints, like the hips and knees, and my help boost your mood, even when your joints are painful.”
Aim for a combination of flexibility and strength exercises.
“Be sure to get some aerobic exercise,” adds Dr. Thomas. “Walking is ideal and can be especially beneficial for people with knee arthritis. In one study of 1,854 people with or at high risk of knee arthritis, those who replaced five minutes of daily non-walking time with five minutes of moderate -to-vigorous intensity walking reduced their likelihood of needing knee replacement surgery by 16 percent.”
In another promising study, researchers surveyed over 1,000 people ages 50 or older with knee osteoarthritis. After four years, those who started out without frequent knee pain and walked for exercise were less likely to experience new, regular bouts of stiffness and had less structural damage in their knees.
Those who are already in pain should be careful not to overdo exercise, so start off with a short walk, gradually building up distance over time. The goal of exercise is to provide muscular support to an arthritic knee, and to let the joints, tendons and tissue become acclimated to the walking.
Walking is an inexpensive, convenient way to treat mild knee arthritis – it’s one of the best exercises you can do. Go for it!