You may think of arthritis as a condition that primarily affects older adults. While many seniors live with a form of the disease, according to the Arthritis Foundation, two-thirds of people with arthritis are under the age of 65.
Arthritis frequently occurs with other chronic diseases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports approximately half of U.S. adults with heart disease or diabetes and one-third of those who are obese have arthritis.
There are two common types of adult arthritis:
Osteoarthritis – the most common form in which joint cartilage breaks down.
Rheumatoid arthritis – an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of the joints.
Arthritis symptoms often include joint pain, swelling, stiffness and loss of range of motion. The specific symptoms vary depending on the type of arthritis.
Arthritis can make it difficult for a person to get around – to climb stairs or walk long distances – or do self-care activities. According to the CDC, over 43 percent of the 54.4 million adults with doctor-diagnosed arthritis are limited in their usual activities as a result of arthritis.
Treatment for arthritis may include management classes, physical therapy, weight management, medication and exercise. However, anyone with a chronic illness or condition should consult their physician and seek approval prior to beginning an exercise program.
Benefits of Exercise
Exercise can alleviate arthritis pain and stiffness and also may improve muscle strength, mobility and range of motion. It also helps with weight control and stress reduction.
Walking, swimming and programs that focus on balance and gentle stretching such as yoga and tai chi are effective forms of exercise that are easy on the joints.
The only equipment necessary for walking is comfortable clothing and supportive shoes. You can walk outdoors when the weather permits and move indoors to a gym or shopping mall during inclement weather.
Most communities have a public pool where people can swim laps or take aqua aerobics classes. A local fitness center may have a pool available for members.
Yoga and tai chi also only require something comfortable to wear, and shoes are usually optional. Many community centers offer affordable classes, or you can do these exercises at home with a DVD.
Get moving, take a deep breath and manage your arthritis better.
This article was submitted by Nicol Rupolo, owner of ComForCare of Lower Fairfield County, in collaboration with ComForCare Holdings, LLC. Nicol may be reached at 203-705-0220 or Nicol@ComForCare.com.