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Arthritis and exercise

You may think that exercise and arthritis do not go hand in hand. If so, you would be mistaken. It was thought for many years that if you had arthritis you should not exercise because it would damage your joints. Now, however, research has shown that exercise is an essential tool in managing your arthritis. 

Regular, moderate exercise offers a whole host of benefits to people with arthritis. Mainly, exercise reduces joint pain and stiffness, builds strong muscle around the joints, and increases flexibility and endurance. But it also helps promote overall health and fitness by giving you more energy, helping you sleep better, controlling your weight, decreasing depression, and giving you more self-esteem. Furthermore, exercise can help stave off other health problems such as osteoporosis and heart disease. 

Starting an exercise program can seem like a daunting proposition. The important thing to remember is to start slow and make it fun. It is always good to start with flexibility exercises, which are basically stretching exercises that will improve your range of motion and help you perform daily activities. Once you feel comfortable you can move on to weight training and endurance exercises such as bicycling. You may be reluctant to exercise because you are in such pain. If this is the case you may want to start with a water exercise program. In the water your body's buoyancy reduces stress on your hips, knees, and spine.

An exercise program can include anything from walking around the block, taking a yoga class, or playing a round of golf. In this section we've attempted to give you all the information you will need on how to start exercising and the proper way to incorporate exercise into the management of your arthritis.   

Whatever exercise program you decide on you should always consult with your doctor before starting out. Two other types of health professionals that can help you develop an exercise program that fits your specific needs are a physical or occupational therapist. A physical therapist can show you the proper techniques and precautions when performing certain types of exercise. An occupational therapist can show you how to perform daily activities without putting additional stress on your joints and can provide you with splints or assistive devices that can make working out more comfortable.