Exercise Your Way to Flexibility and Sense of Well-Being

/ February 23rd, 2012/ Posted in Health / Comments Off on Exercise Your Way to Flexibility and Sense of Well-Being

It’s a Catch-22. Your joints hurt so you don’t feel like exercising. The result is you’re stiffer and have more pain.

But if you exercise, you have more flexibility and better health. Your muscles, bones and joints become stronger.

“Exercise is important to strengthen the muscles so there’s a support structure around” the joints, said Beth Baudendistel, a physical therapist at HealthLink in San Antonio. Baudendistel said the muscle-joint relationship can be likened to the hoisting of a telephone pole with guy-wires. The muscles are like the wires holding the pole (joints) in place. The stronger the muscles are, the more weight they can carry and, in doing so, relieve stress on the joints.

There’s not much dispute about it. Doctors and therapists agree — exercise is good for body, mind and spirit.

And while surveys show that most people with arthritis believe exercise will reduce the effects of the disease, fewer than half of them exercise regularly.

An appropriate exercise plan is just part of an overall treatment program for people with arthritis. Along with medications without a prescription, rest and proper diet, exercise helps keep your joints in working order and can also prevent more damage. Among other benefits of regular exercise, you will enjoy
Increased energy.
Improved sleep.
Weight control.
Decreased depression.
Improved self-esteem.
Best Types of Exercise
Basically, there are three types of exercise that are highly beneficial — range-of-motion, strength-building and aerobic.

Range of Motion
Range of motion refers to the degree that a joint or body part can move in any direction. Range of motion exercises relieve stiffness and maintain — even increase — flexibility. To maintain normal daily activity, range of motion exercises are essential. For example, to stretch shoulder joints, hold arms out to the side and rotate like a windmill.

Strong muscles support and protect stiff joints. Weight-bearing exercise also fights osteoporosis. Strengthening exercises can include exercise machines, small free weights, resistive water exercise and isometrics, which involves contracting muscles but not moving joints.

Aerobic exercise helps in weight control, an advantage because extra pounds can put greater stress on joints. Aerobic activity also is good for your heart and cardiovascular system. Walking and water exercise are two of the most popular aerobic activities for people with arthritis.

It’s Good for all Types of Arthritis
Whether you have osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or fibromyalgia, regular exercise will produce positive results.

A knowledgeable doctor, physical therapist or occupational therapist can recommend exercises that are helpful for particular types of arthritis. They can also tell you about exercises that will benefit specific joints.

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