September marks the National Arthritis Month, a disease that affects over 4.6 million Canadian adults - some as young as 15 years of age. A common misconception of arthritis -- inflammation of the joints -- is that those experiencing symptoms should not workout, however, this is simply a untrue.
Exercise, specifically strength training, should be an integral part of any arthritis treatment plan and can help overcome symptoms associated with this potentially debilitating disease. These symptoms include fatigue, swelling, stiffness, joint pain, and can be worsened by inactivity. Strength training can benefit those suffering from arthritis in several ways.
Make everyday tasks easier
Consisting of controlled movements with weights, resistance training targets and strengthens larger muscle groups. Strength training exercises help to strengthen cartilage, joints, bones and muscles, all vital for healthy movement. Not only does it help build strength and endurance, but over time, resistance training will help decrease symptoms associated with arthritis by providing support to joints, alleviating pressure. Low-impact aerobic exercise is also a great way start in the gym and will help to get your joints, bones and muscles moving and working together. This combined with the increased range of motion exercise makes completing everyday tasks, such as grocery shopping and gardening easier.
Help with weight management
Weight management is an important part of a healthy lifestyle for everyone. For people with arthritis, fat is actually known to increase the level of inflammation associated with the disease. Every extra pound of body weight places three pounds of pressure on joints. Weight loss can help lessen pain, improve function and lower inflammation in arthritis sufferers.
Help alleviating stress
When living in pain, it can be easy to become anxious, depressed and frustrated. Many studies report that people who exercise regularly experience lower stress levels. This is an important factor in managing overall well-being. Exercise has been known to improve sleep as well as release endorphins that help improve mood and reduce stress.
Give you more energy
Resistance training and exercise in general, can decrease fatigue and significantly increase energy levels. Participating in regular moderate to high intensity exercise ensures a lasting positive impact on energy levels.
Be an empowering experience
Working out is a way for anybody to regain control of their body. Exercise forces individuals to accept their limitations while working towards a healthier lifestyle. Exercise plans depend on the individual and you should be mindful of comfort levels, working at an appropriate pace.
When living in pain, staying sedentary may feel more comfortable, but even making small changes will help work towards a healthier lifestyle. When beginning a resistance training program, starting off slowly and ensuring safety are paramount.
To avoid injury during a new workout program, be sure to do your research. If you are unsure, seek help from a trained professional who can monitor your progress, form and motion throughout each movement.
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