Exercising for (well, against) Arthritis

So you want to prevent or manage arthritis? Whatever you do, don't stop moving!  Here are just a few of the ways exercise helps your joints and bones:

  • Exercise moves the synovial fluid through your cartilage.  While not an "oil," synovial fluid is the "grease" of your joints and has been shown to slow the progression of osteoarthritis.  It also brings nutrients to your joints.
  • Exercise strengthens the tissues around your joints to help absorb impact.
  • It increases your range of motion.
  • Exercise improves your biomechanics (which means less stress on your joints).
  • Most exercise strengthens your bones.

While I know you want to exercise after reading that list, you are probably debating what type of exercise.  Swim?  Bike?  Walk?  Run?  Recent research actually supports all of the above, including running...with some qualifications.  According to a report in the Caspian Journal of Internal Medicine (2011;2 [2], 205-12), mild (1st qualification) knee osteoarthritis responded well to progressive (2nd qualification) higher-impact exercise.  Patellar cartilage thickness improved by 7% and leg strength improved.

So, keep moving...and talk with your Health Care Provider or Certified Personal Trainer about an exercise program that is right for your specific situation.

(For more information, read "The Arthritis Cure - Revised Edition" by Jason Theodosakis, MD, MS, MPH, FACPM and Sheila Buff.  The list of arthritis-specific exercise benefits is based on this book.  The research article can be found in the Caspian Journal of Internal Medicine.)


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