Posted by dave on June 12th, 2012
Exercise is key to maintaining healthy joints. This is because, as we age, muscle mass decreases. If we don’t exercise to maintain muscle mass, the joint (instead of the muscle) will end up dong most of the work. The joint will absorb impact, pounding, and shock, gradually becoming damaged.
In addition to building important muscle mass, exercise also reduces stiffness in the joints, strengthens bones, reduces pain, and improves flexibility and balance. Exercise also keeps tendons and ligaments elastic. Go for exercises encourage a wide variety of low-impact movement to avoid overuse of the joints and encourage flexibility and improved muscle mass.
Exercise is also important to keep body weight in check. When we gain excess weight, the joints of the body have to carry a heavier load and do more work. This means the joint will undergo damage over the long term. The keens in particular will experience more damage over time for those individuals who do not maintain a healthy weight.
It can be encouraging to know that even a small amount of weight loss can make a big difference. For example, losing as little as 11 pounds may improve joint health of the knee and reduce the risk of osteoarthritis of the knee by 50 percent. For women, losing a little over ten pounds can cut arthritis pain in half.
Exercise and Joint Pain
How should people who are experiencing pain, either due to arthritis or injury, approach physical fitness? First, seek the advice of a doctor. Communicate to him or her which exercise or movements cause you the most pain. Then, you can develop a physical fitness regimen with these restrictions in mind. A doctor may recommend that you allow your body to rest or at least reduce the intensity and frequency of your workout.
Be aware that if you are experiencing pain in a specific joint, exercise can still be beneficial if you take the right approach. For those with minor pain, exercising the joint can actually be helpful to the body. Exercise helps to deliver nutrients to various areas in the body, while also flushing out debris and toxins. Exercise also reduces stress levels. Stress produces a hormone called cortisol in the body, which further exacerbates inflammation (which can damage cartilage), so any reduction in stress is helpful.
Low-impact ways to exercise and build muscle include:
• Weight Training: Light weights or isometric exercise reduces impact and stress on the joints, while also building muscle.
• Stretching: Stretching relaxes the tendons that surround the joint and improve mobility. Yoga, Pilates, and tai chi are all excellent stretching exercises.
• Endurance Exercises: Biking, walking, swimming, and tennis encourage the joints to work and reduces the likelihood of injury.