Photo: Healthy joint, Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid arthritis from Harvard Medical School Healthbeat
Arthritis reminds us of its presence every time we need to zip a back zipper. Or climb a flight of stairs. Or tie our shoes.
Soon we compensate. We buy clothing with front openings or no openings at all, just elastic. We move to a one-story home and switch to slippers or Velcro shoe wear.
In short, we make our worlds smaller, our lives smaller, our range of activities smaller and our choices fewer.
We also lessen our range of motion in the affected joints—thereby making the arthritis worse. Inactivity compounds the joint problem. It weakens the muscles that the joint needs for support and affects our posture.
Hot and cold packs may offer temporary relief.
The right kind of exercise program can offer long-term relief from arthritic pain. The muscle strength and flexibility gained by regular exercise may help to postpone or even eliminate the need for surgical treatment of arthritis.
Exercise can help us return to activities we’d abandoned because of discomfort. In short, we can enjoy a remission of pain and a restoration of mobility, activity and independence.
Beyond easing joint pain, exercise keeps blood pressure, stress and extra weight down and keeps mental acuity up. Collectively, these benefits contribute to extending our lives and range of interests.
Most importantly, the benefits of exercise permit us to resume our individual pursuits of happiness.
You’ll like it.
For more information + starter exercise videos, visit the Arthritis Foundation at http://www.arthritis.org/exercise-intro.php