How does exercise help?
It can be hard to keep moving when you have arthritis but staying as active as possible can reduce your pain and the symptoms of your condition, and help you to stay independent.
As well as reducing your pain, exercise can:
improve your muscle strength which keeps your joints strong and well-supported
reduce stiffness in your joints
help your balance
improve energy levels and feelings of tiredness
help you manage your weight
boost your mood.
What happens when we exercise?
Rest or exercise?
Many people with arthritis are worried that exercise could cause further damage to their joints, but exercise is good for us and helps our joints stay healthy. Your body is designed to move and resting too much could actually cause harm to your joints and the tissues around them. You might notice after being unwell for a short time that you feel much weaker or less fit than usual. It might feel like things you used to do easily before are harder. So it’s important to stay as active as you can to reduce the risk of your muscles or other tissues around your joints becoming weaker, as this could cause more problems with your joints in the future. Many people notice the benefits very quickly once they start moving again, and feel like they have more energy or feel more confident.
Improving your health
For some types of arthritis, people may be at a higher risk of developing other conditions that affect the heart and lungs, so it’s important to do some general fitness exercises, also known as aerobic exercises, which help to improve your heart and lung health. Exercise can also help you maintain a healthy weight, especially when combined with a balanced diet. Keeping to a healthy weight puts less strain on your joints, which can also reduce pain. Some types of arthritis or the drugs to treat them can cause problems with your bones, leading to conditions like osteoporosis. But doing activity that puts weight through our bones helps to keep them strong, and balance exercises reduce the risk of falling, which in turn reduces the risk of breaking bones easily.
Boosting your mood
Another important benefit of physical activity is the way it can improve how you feel. Many people with arthritis and related conditions can experience low mood or problems with their sleep, but physical activity can actually improve your energy levels and reduce fatigue, help you sleep better and boost your confidence and mood. Being active is also a great way to socialise – either by doing activities with friends and family, or meeting people through exercise groups. This can also help boost your mood, and over time you’ll have more energy to do more of the things you love.