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Sharp Health News

How to stay active with arthritis

Oct. 22, 2015

Arthritis and exercise

San Diego’s great year-round weather and various playgrounds (trails, mountains, beaches and parks) offer countless options for recreational fitness activities. And we all know that staying active is one of the most important ways to maximize health and live longer. Recent studies show even slightly reducing your time on the couch or at the computer desk can cut your risk of all causes of death by 15 to 20 percent.

If you are living with arthritis, however, you should know that it takes a bit more effort to protect your health before you dive head first into a new sport or workout routine.

Dr. Matthew Messoline, a family medicine doctor at Sharp Rees-Stealy, outlines these three simple steps:

  1. Warm up before, stretch after
    Before your workout or activity, do a 10 to 15 minute warm-up (light jogging, jumping jacks, walking lunges, etc.) first, followed by static stretches (stretching individual body parts while at rest). Don’t forget to stretch again at the end of an activity to avoid tightness.

  2. Vary your workout routine
    Repetitive motion can lead to long-term overuse injuries, including arthritis, because it causes considerable strain to isolated parts of the body. Switch things up to include activities like biking and swimming, which will strengthen muscles around the joints and still provide a great workout. When you use free weights and body weight exercises, focus on a comfortable weight that you can perform for eight to 10 repetitions without pain. Then, slowly work up from there as your body allows without pain.

  3. Protect the padding that is left
    Wear protective devices like knee sleeves and footwear inserts to take some burden off arthritic joints. Exercise on even surfaces and wear protective guards to reduce the risk of serious injury.

As always, see your doctor if you experience new pain — especially during exercises — as it could lead to a bigger problem sooner than later.

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