Arthritis? Exercise for less pain

Washington, Jan 2 : Don't halt exercises just because you have aching knees and joints caused by arthritis.

People with arthritis who exercise regularly report less pain, says a new Mayo Clinic study.

Regular, modest exercise improves joint stability and strengthens muscles, says the study. It also improves mood, sleep, energy levels and day-to-day functioning.

When a person avoids exercise, joints become less mobile and the surrounding muscles shrink, causing increased fatigue and pain.

A physical therapist or personal trainer can tailor exercise programmes to health conditions and fitness levels. The key is to choose safe, appropriate activities and to take it slowly at first.

A variety of activities can be safe and helpful for people with arthritis, including:

Range-of-motion and flexibility exercises: Activities such as yoga and tai chi increase joint mobility. Doing range-of-motion exercises in the evening can reduce joint stiffness the next morning.

Low-impact aerobics: Aerobic exercise improves overall fitness and endurance as well as muscle function and joint stability. Low-impact options include water aerobics, swimming, bicycling, walking or using equipment such as treadmills and elliptical trainers.

Strengthening: Strength training builds the muscles around the joints to provide better support. These exercises may be done with one's own body weight for resistance, with hand-held weights, resistance bands or weight machines.

Lifestyle: Many everyday activities -- gardening and housework -- provide the health benefits of moderate physical activities.

These findings were published in the December issue of Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource.(IANS)