Arthritis calls for moderation


Published Dec 6, 2012 at 04:00AM / Updated Nov 19, 2013 at 12:31AM

For people with arthritis, aches and pains can make movement difficult, which in turn affects how to get proper exercise.

With arthritis, the cartilage that normally cushions the joints is broken down, eventually leading to restricted movement.

Research has shown that physical activity can help alleviate some of the pain and discomfort associated with arthritis. One study at Tufts University found that people with severe rheumatoid arthritis could safely increase their strength with a modest weight-training program. Participants exercised for 12 weeks and increased strength by roughly 60 percent. At the end of the study, nearly all participants said they felt less pain, were able to walk farther and move more freely.

General guidelines:

• A well-rounded exercise program generally consists of a warm-up and a cool-down, gentle stretching, light-weight resistance exercises for muscle strengthening and low-impact aerobic exercise. Start out slowly with small amounts of activity and low levels of resistance. Increase intensity only slightly as you become stronger. If an activity causes pain, stop immediately. You may initially need to try several activities to find one that is suitable.

• Water exercise such as swimming laps or aqua-aerobics is joint-friendly and is often recommended for those with arthritis.

• Stretching helps to keep joints mobile and can be very helpful for those with arthritis.

— Marjie Gilliam is a personal trainer and fitness consultant.