Facts about Arthritis:
- Arthritis is more common in women than men.
- More than half of people diagnosed with arthritis have osteoarthritis
- Rheumatoid arthritis is the second most common form of arthritis.
- There are more than 100 other types of arthritis, some more commonly known, such as gout and psoriatic arthritis, whilst many other types are less commonly known.
- It is possible to have more than one type of arthritis.
Let’s take a look at the difference between osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis is an inflammatory disease that often develops with age. It progressively, but slowly worsens as articular cartilage degradation outweighs biosynthesis of new cartilage.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease where the body is attacked by bacteria or viruses. The speed of Rheumatoid arthritis is much more rapid than osteoarthritis, as it may travel through your circulation to other joints in the body.
Exercise Tips for Arthritis;
The primary goals for treating arthritis with exercise are to:
- Increase muscular strength to improve joint stability
- Maintain or restore joint flexibility and range of motion
- Reduce weight bearing through weight loss methods such as resistance and aerobic training
- Improve psychological state and decrease risk of health comorbidities (such as additionally having cardiovascular disease or obesity)
What Exercise is best for Arthritis?
1. Resistance Training:
Weight training is important to strengthen the muscles around the affected joint. This will help you to maintain your ability to perform day to day tasks with less difficulty. Weight training should target the muscles surrounding the affected joint/s. For example, for an individual with hip osteoarthritis, exercises should be aimed at strengthening the hamstrings, quadriceps and gluteal muscles.
2. Aerobic Training:
This form of training is extremely important to aid in weight loss and increase blood circulation. Reducing weight helps to remove the extra stress placed on the joint, especially if the arthritis is common in the lower limbs. The best form of aerobic training for weight loss is HIIT (high-intensity interval training).
3. Weight bearing activities:
Strengthening the muscles, bones and joints through weight bearing is encouraged. However, this should be kept to a suitable level as a high-level of weight bearing may cause further issues. For example, walking rather than cycling on an exercise bike may have greater benefits. However, activities such as jumping with heavy landings should be avoided.
4. Additional considerations:
- Morning stiffness may last for several hours after waking up, therefore you should aim to exercise later in the day for greater benefits.
- Slight pain or discomfort felt during exercise may be ok, however, if pain persists beyond 2 hours post exercise, then exercise should be modified.
- Fatigue may be especially present once you begin an exercise program.
- Extra flexibility training should be performed within a cool down.
- Aquatic exercise may be helpful for a short period after diagnoses of hip or knee osteoarthritis, however, there is limited evidence for any longer term benefits.