Osteoarthritis Management and Exercise

By on October 10, 2011
Older women using exercise to manage their osteoarthritis.

Regular physical activity plays a key role in osteoarthritis management . Two types of exercise are important in osteoarthritis self-care and wellness.

The first type, therapeutic exercises, keep joints working as well as possible. The other type, aerobic conditioning exercises, improve strength and fitness, and control weight. Patients should be realistic when they start exercising. They should learn how to exercise correctly, because exercising incorrectly can cause problems.

Most people with osteoarthritis exercise best when their pain is least severe. Start with an adequate warmup and begin exercising slowly. Resting frequently ensures a good workout. It also reduces the risk of injury. A physical therapist can evaluate how a patient’s muscles are working. This information helps the therapist develop a safe, personalized exercise program to increase strength and flexibility.

Many people enjoy sports or other activities in their exercise program. Good activities include swimming and aquatic exercise, walking, running, biking, cross-country skiing, and using exercise machines and exercise videotapes.

People with osteoarthritis should check with their doctor or physical therapist before starting an exercise program. Health care providers will suggest what exercises are best for you, how to warm up safely, and when to avoid exercising a joint affected by arthritis. Pain medications and applying ice after exercising may make exercising easier.