What Are the Benefits of Exercise for Osteoarthritis?
As more people spend time at home rather than going out, sedentary habits mean an increased risk of developing or aggravating osteoarthritis within the joints of the body. An estimated 23 percent of American adults suffer from arthritis, making it a leading cause of work pain and disability.
What is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is the progressive breakdown of the cartilage (or cushion) that lines the surfaces of the bones that ultimately form the joints of the body, such as the knee, shoulder and hip. This breakdown can make joint movement painful and can result in reduced mobility necessary for daily activities.
- Pain with daily activities
- Pain at night
- Decreased range of motion
- Decreased strength
- Tenderness to touch
Osteoarthritis can cause people who were once active to begin living a sedentary lifestyle in an attempt to avoid pain. Yet not only does inactivity increase pain, but it also negatively affects the health of the other major systems of the body and their health including the lungs, heart and brain.
How to Treat Osteoarthritis
As a result, osteoarthritis can damage one’s overall health and well-being. The good news is that you can take action to treat this disease and get back to doing the activities you love in your daily life.
Though it seems counterintuitive, studies have shown that one of the best treatments for osteoarthritis is exercise. As we look toward society reopening, it is important that we have maintained an appropriate level of activity during quarantine to reduce the risk of developing or aggravating osteoarthritis upon returning to work.
Some of the evidence-based reasons why exercise is so important to fighting the effects include the following:
- Exercise helps act as a natural “lubricant” to help joints move more efficiently and smoothly.
- Strengthened muscles surrounding the joint allow for more support and promote pain-free movement.
- Exercise helps with weight loss and fitness. Obesity increases the load and stress on joints exponentially. Maintaining a healthy weight reduces load to joints, thus reducing the risk for osteoarthritis.
- Exercise and activity move the joints through a variety of ranges of motion, which helps counteract stiffness.