The pain, especially at night, sometimes makes it seem like you are going to have to change your lifestyle because of your arthritis. But you may not have to do so. If you can exercise and keep fit, you may be able to keep some forms of arthritis under control, particularly the most common form, osteoarthritis, a “wear-and–tear” disorder. We have some advice on how to get started:
- Minimize physical stress. Choose low-impact activities, like swimming and walking, particularly when you first start your exercise program. You shouldn't do just one thing. You may get bored and stop. Alternate between the various exercises.
- Warm up and cool down. When you work out, you always must warm up before you start with some range-of-motion or light aerobic activity. This can help loosen up your muscles and will get your heart and breathing up and ready for some harder work. Similarly, after you exercise, a cool-down period will minimize the aches or pains of a good workout.
- Do aerobic exercise. A longer, easy-paced aerobic exercise is not only safer but also more effective than short bursts of strenuous exercise. Exercise with a friend. It will help both of you actually commit to working out. If you can't carry on a conversation, you know you are breathing too hard and should take it a little easier.
- Don't get discouraged. Set realistic goals for yourself, particularly if you never have really worked out before. Remember, you are not alone. About one in every seven Americans suffers from some type of arthritis.
Be sure to consult a healthcare professional before beginning an exercise regimen.