How Exercise Can Alleviate Joint Pain
Joint pain can have a life-altering impact. It can prompt people to change their behaviors, opt out of certain activities or live with the discomfort for fear of missing out on experiences or sacrificing healthy habits.
The great news for those suffering from arthritis is that exercise can actually alleviate joint pain!
Joint Pain + Arthritis
Joint pain, referred to most often as arthritis, isn’t rare. A University of Michigan poll rendered in 2022 found that 70% of older Americans experience joint pain, more common in women than men. And the Centers for Disease Control estimates that about one-quarter of all Americans live with joint pain, citing it as the leading cause of work disability.
Those who live with joint pain have to weigh the pain against the benefits of activity and exercise. While exercise is recommended for most healthy adults, statistics indicate that less than a third of Americans meet the minimum suggested guidelines for activity.
The Benefits of Regular Exercise
Regular exercise has been shown to minimize stiffness and pain in joints while providing vital lubrication to the joint’s cartilage. In addition, exercise decreases bone loss while strengthening the muscles that support the joints and ultimately reducing swelling and discomfort. And it goes without saying that exercise helps those doing it maintain a healthy weight.
The key to maximizing the benefits of exercise for those living with arthritis is finding the right type of activities in which to engage. Ultimately, those living with joint pain would benefit from lower impact exercises and activities that don’t put as much strain on joints. Among those, certain exercises increase range of motion, improve flexibility and build strength.
Here’s a look at three categories of low-impact exercises to consider when navigating joint pain:
Aerobic + Endurance
Exercises like walking, hiking and swimming fall into this category. They’ve been shown to not only improve cardiovascular health, but also act as a “natural painkiller” while releasing beneficial endorphins.
Range of Motion
Activities such as yoga, pilates and Tai Chi improve range of motion, add to flexibility, build muscle strength and improve balance while also relieving stiffness in the joints and improving a joint’s mobility.
Strength + Resistance
Exercises such as rowing, bridges and wall push-ups (in addition to a number of other minimal impact moves and activities) bolsters muscle strength — particularly around the joints — which offers additional support to those living with joint pain.
Warming Up + Cooling Down
Don’t forget to warm up and cool down before and after activity. A warm up introduces the body to the upcoming cardiovascular activity, raising the body’s temperature and increasing blood flow to the muscles. A cool down allows the body to gradually return to its pre-exercise state.
At Ethos Integrative Medicine in Scottsdale, our team of specialists takes a novel approach to healthcare to achieve the results patients deserve. Learn more about our team at https://ethosscottsdale.com/about.
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