Promoting exercise and physical activity for individuals with arthritis
by: Marie Westby, PT, PhD
Like other British Columbians, people living with arthritis are healthier, happier and live longer when they are physically active. Yet, one of the first things people give up when diagnosed with an arthritis condition is physical activity or their recreational pursuits. Being inactive, in addition to arthritis-related problems, can lead to a variety of health risks, including obesity, Type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. Pain levels, joint stiffness, muscle strength, balance and daily function can all be made worse by inactivity. For many older people with arthritis, joint and muscle changes due to aging can make matters worse. Therefore, for the person with arthritis, finding the right type of exercise to remain active is very important.
- People with arthritis who exercise regularly have less pain, more energy, improved sleep, better coping skills, greater day-to-day function and a lower risk of falling.
- For people with inflammatory arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), regular and appropriate exercise can help to control or even reduce disease activity (pain, stiffness, swelling) and maintain bone strength and quality, especially in the small joints of the hands and feet
- Starting off slowly with a few, low-intensity exercises will help to ensure a safe and successful exercise program.