People with arthritis should exercise ? but they need to keep some valuable information in mind. Here are some important tips to follow:
1. Make sure you warm up. Warming up increases blood flow and helps muscles loosen up. Five minutes of simple walking or riding a stationary bike will do it.
2. Stretching improves flexibility which helps a patient prepare for aerobic activity. Stretching the hamstrings and quadriceps muscles is important.
3. Start out easy. If you exercise too hard you switch from aerobic to anaerobic activity. This can lead to potentially painful and dangerous injury. To determine where you need to be, find your target heart rate by subtracting your age from 220, then aim for 40 to 70% of that rate.
4. You need to push a bit. Make sure you are working inside the 40 to 70% range to improve energy, lose weight, and build muscle. If you push too hard you'll be in a lot of pain and may need to back off a bit.
5. Do not eat within two hours of exercising. Digestion causes blood flow to go to the gut instead of the muscles. This could cause abdominal cramps and nausea.
6. Make sure you don't overdo it. When lifting weights, the temptation is to push too hard. If you are lifting the proper amount of weight you will feel fatigue by the 15th repetition. When you find that a certain weight becomes too easy, go up a bit in weight. Weight training helps improve stamina, energy, and strength.
7. Cool down properly. Stretch, breathe deeply, and don't stop abruptly.
8. Drink plenty of water. The rule of thumb is drinking 8 ounces of water for every fifteen minutes of exercise. After you're done, drink more. Proper water intake will help with your cool down, circulation, and injury prevention.
9. If you're using a stair climber or elliptical machine, the temptation is to lean on the arm rests. This could lead to bad posture and low back problems. Stand straight.
10. Use proper form. Improper form leads to injury.
11. If you hurt, skip your exercise that day. Trying to work through the pain may lead to injury. You may notice some muscle soreness the day after a good workout. The soreness should not last longer than a day or two.
12. Consider seeing a physical therapist prior to starting an exercise program. They can give you a set of "do's and don'ts".
13. "Custom fit" your exercise. For instance, if you have bad shoulders, then swimming is probably not the right exercise for you. Consider biking or walking. On the other hand, if you have bad knees, swimming might be better for you than walking. Avoid rowing if you have a bad back.
Dr. Wei (pronounced "way") is a board-certified rheumatologist and Clinical Director of the nationally respected Arthritis and Osteoporosis Center of Maryland. He is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and has served as a consultant to the Arthritis Branch of the National Institutes of Health. He is a Fellow of the American College of Rheumatology and the American College of Physicians. For more information on arthritis and related conditions, go to: http://www.arthritis-treatment-and-relief.com