If you have osteoarthritis, exercise is crucial for maintaining the health of your joints while managing symptoms like pain and stiffness. Unfortunately, certain exercises, like high-impact ones, can make osteoarthritis worse. The key to managing osteoarthritis with exercise is to choose the right low-impact, joint-friendly workouts.
Here are some of the top exercises recommended for people living with osteoarthritis.
Walking is one of the simplest yet most effective exercises for osteoarthritis. Walking provides low-impact aerobic activity, which can improve cardiovascular fitness without placing excess stress on your joints.
Start slowly and always try to walk on flat, even surfaces. Use supportive footwear with good cushioning.
Aerobic exercises in the water, like swimming, help you get a good workout with minimal joint stress. This is because the buoyancy of water supports your body and takes the pressure off the joints while still providing resistance.
Some fitness facilities even have specialized aquatic therapy programs tailored to individuals with osteoarthritis to aid joint health.
Riding a stationary bike or cycling outdoors can be good exercise when you have osteoarthritis, especially if you want to build lower body strength. The smooth spinning motion improves mobility in your hips, knees, and ankles without causing jarring impact.
If you experience back or neck pain when cycling, you can try a recumbent bike, which keeps you in a more upright position.
Gentle, restorative yoga poses can improve your mobility, flexibility, and balance. Try to avoid poses that go too deep, including deep knee flexion, like lunges. Instead, opt for modifications and variations that allow you to use props (such as blocks) to support your joints.
The slow, graceful movements of Tai Chi incorporate strength, balance, and deep breathing. Tai Chi can help improve physical function and reduce stiffness, which also helps reduce pain.
Pilates is a core strengthening workout that focuses on improving joint stability and function through proper alignment and posture. Low-impact mat exercises like knee stretches and leg circles can gently increase your range of motion.
If you’re doing Pilates at a studio, talk to the instructor about your osteoarthritis and request that they help you modify exercises as needed. That may involve utilizing props to support your joints or limiting your range of motion, so you don’t accidentally overstretch.
The Key to Exercising with Osteoarthritis
The key is starting an exercise routine tailored to your level of osteoarthritis, focused on the health of your problem joints, and respectful of your current fitness level. Low-impact activities that build strength and flexibility without overtaxing your joints are ideal.
This post was written by a medical professional at Stemedix Inc. At Stemedix we provide access to Regenerative Medicine for osteoarthritis, also known as Stem Cell Therapy for Osteoarthritis. Regenerative medicine has the natural potential to help improve symptoms sometimes lost from the progression of many conditions.