Exercise and arthritis: Move it or lose it

November 29, 2000

ROCHESTER, MINN. -- Nearly everyone knows that exercise has numerous health benefits for people of all ages and physical conditions. But for one group in particular, people with arthritis, exercise is crucial. Sound strange? After all, arthritis can cause extreme pain and stiffness. Who can exercise in that condition?

According to the December issue of Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource, exercise increases strength and flexibility, reduces pain and fights fatigue, and helps to maintain a healthy weight -- all of which are critical to the treatment of arthritis and its symptoms.

Movement, no matter how small, can help regardless of the type or severity of the arthritis problem. Even people who are wheelchair-bound can participate in strength training. The Arthritis Foundation has developed a program called PACE (People with Arthritis Can Exercise) that includes activities that can be performed while seated. Shoulder rolls, arm lifts and leg lifts are some examples.

Water exercises also are helpful since the buoyancy takes pressure off the joints. Yoga and tai chi are good choices, too, provided you tell the instructor about your condition beforehand. And that old reliable standby, walking, is one of the best choices for those who can stand. The key to safely exercising with arthritis is using proper form and knowing your limits. More information about arthritis and exercise is available from the Arthritis Foundation at 800-283-7800 or online at www.arthritis.org.
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Shelly Plutowski
507-284-2417 (days)
507-284-2511 (evenings)
e-mail: newsbureau@mayo.edu

Mayo Clinic

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