There's an old joke that goes...
"It hurts when I do this."
"Well, then don't do that."
Arthritis patients hurt when they move. But, it is important for people with arthritis to keep moving and stay active. That message may seem contradictory, but it's not. It is known that exercise can benefit arthritis patients over time by:
- decreasing pain
- improving their gait and mobility by reducing stiffness
- improving range of motion
- improving function
- putting off disability
Why Are So Many People With Arthritis Not Exercising?
There are myriad reasons why so many people who have arthritis avoid exercise, including:
- fear of pain.
- believing that exercise will make joint pain worse.
- depression and anxiety.
- physical limitations (difficulty walking, grasping, bending, kneeling, lifting, or standing).
- no access to a fitness center (due to expense or lack of transportation).
It is difficult for an arthritis patient to realize that by not exercising and not staying active they are perpetuating the cycle of pain, inactivity, and disability. Exercise doesn't make arthritis worse. Exercise actually improves arthritis symptoms.
Study Reveals Activity Level For People With Arthritis
Data from a national health survey, which included 6,829 people diagnosed with arthritis and 20,676 people without arthritis, was analyzed and reported in the May 2006 American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
According to the data:
- 37% of people with arthritis get no exercise.
- 30% of people with arthritis were getting recommended levels of moderate or vigorous exercise.
- 20% of people with arthritis regularly performed strengthening exercises.
How Can Arthritis Patients Use The Data To Improve Their Activity Level?
Exercise should not be avoided by arthritis patients. Not exercising results in the aforementioned undesirable consequences including more pain, stiffness, inflammation, joint damage, physical limitation, and disability.
Arthritis patients should work with their doctors to develop the best treatment regimen to minimize pain. Arthritis patients must believe in the importance of exercising and believe in what is true about exercise and arthritis:
- Exercise and physical activity are beneficial for arthritis patients.
- Lack of exercise results in undesirable consequences and worsening symptoms.
American Journal of Preventive Medicine, May 2006
Most People With Arthritis Don't Get Enough Exercise, Newswise, 4/20/2006.