Rheumatoid Arthritis: NHS on common signs and symptoms
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Arthritis is a common condition that causes inflammation and pain in the joints. In the UK alone, it is thought more than 10 million people have arthritis or other, similar conditions. While there is no cure for arthritis there are a number of treatments and lifestyle changes that can help ease symptoms.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Dr John Outhwaite – a rheumatologist at King Edward VII’s Hospital in London – explained how not exercising is actually worse for the joints.
“Arthritis can make everyday tasks such as moving, walking and travelling painful and distressing,” he said.
“If you suffer with the pain and discomfort of arthritis, then exercise may be far from your mind.
“However, regular exercise can help arthritis sufferers to increase strength and flexibility, improve range of movement and mobility of joints and reduce stiffness.
“Being physically active can also preserve the density of your bones.
“All of these factors can help to reduce the amount of pain you experience and may help to prevent your discomfort from getting worse.
“It’s easy to become locked in the ‘deconditioning cycle’ if you have arthritis.
“This cycle starts with painful joints, which leads to being less active.
“This then means that the muscles become weaker, leading to unstable joints and more joint pain when you do move, completing the cycle.”
He advised how often people with arthritis should exercise.
Dr Outhwaite said: “Arthritis sufferers are advised to work out for 30 minutes, at least five times a week.
“To get started, pick exercise that you enjoy.
“That way, you’re more likely to stay motivated and remain as active as possible.
“That said, it’s better to choose low impact exercise that puts less pressure on the joints.”
Low impact exercises include walking, swimming, aqua aerobics and cycling.
“But you can still push yourself whilst doing these exercises if you wish to,” he added.
“Having arthritis doesn’t mean that you can’t carry out low impact exercises vigorously – you just need to be careful to stay within your limits.
“Strengthening exercises such as Pilates and yoga are also important to help strengthen your muscles and support your joints.
“If you’re experiencing a flare up and your joints feel inflamed, hot and swollen, avoid strengthening exercise until your flare up has passed.”
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