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10 Reasons For Arthritis Sufferers To Exercise

In conjunction with National Arthritis Month, the American Council on Exercise, suggests the following reasons why arthritis sufferers should exercise.

"Unfortunately, many arthritis sufferers mistakenly believe that exercise will worsen their condition," said Dr. Cedric Bryant, chief exercise physiologist for ACE. "The reality, however, is that a well-rounded physical activity program of stretching, strength training and aerobic exercise can help minimize many of the adverse effects of arthritis and improve overall functional capacity."

1. Flexibility training helps improve range of motion and reduces stiffness in afflicted joints.

2. Aerobic exercise, particularly low-impact activities such as walking, helps reduce the psychological and emotional pain that often accompanies arthritis.

3. Strength training builds muscle strength, enhances joint stability and improves mobility.

4. Weight-bearing (e.g., walking) or weight-loading (e.g., strength training) exercise helps reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis.

5. Arthritis can negatively affect posture, balance and coordination, all of which may be improved by regular exercise.

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6. Excess weight places additional strain on the joints. Along with a sensible diet, exercise plays a key role in helping individuals maintain normal body weight.

7. Exercise has been shown to help manage stress, which can take its toll on the whole body, including the joints.

8. People with arthritis often become depressed and develop a poor self-image. Exercise helps prevent depression and creates positive mental outlooks.

9. Painful joints can interfere with a good night's sleep. Regular exercise has been shown to improve overall sleep patterns and may help lessen this problem.

10. Because arthritis frequently leads to a more sedentary lifestyle, individuals with this condition are often at an increased risk of developing other significant health problems, such as heart disease or diabetes. Staying active and exercising regularly is an effective means of not only controlling the effects of arthritis, but also of minimizing or eliminating the risk of developing a variety of other lifestyle-related diseases.

Getting started
For suggestions to keep active, check out the new book, "Exercises for Arthritis,'' (Hatherleigh Press, $15.95) by Erin O'Driscoll, a registered nurse and exercise physiologist. These provide a range of exercises that can be done in bed to get the day started, as well as muscle-strengthening and aerobic exercises. Includes lots of how-to photos and easy-to-read descriptions. Warm water aerobics are an especially great way for people with arthritis to exercise. There's less impact on the joints and the water is soothing.

Source: Post Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), online at Copyright 1997-2004 PG Publishing Co., Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Copyright © 2004 Bob Cairns. All rights reserved.