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WEEKLY WORKOUT: Exercise And Arthritis

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About 50 million Americans suffer from arthritis, making it the most common cause of disability in the U.S.

There are also about a hundred different forms of arthritis and just about as many myths surrounding the ailment.  Among them:  Arthritis only affects older individuals, there’s nothing you can do about it and you shouldn’t exercise.

“The reality is, that proper exercise, nutrition, medical counseling, physical therapy, they all play a part in enriching your quality of like and keeping you pain free,” says Angie Gallagher a personal trainer and certified trainer for the Arthritis Foundation.

She says it’s important to find a trainer who’s had experience working with arthritis and who knows what exercises are appropriate.

Low impact, joint friendly exercises are ideal.  In the gym, look for the stationery bike or elliptical machine.  Some elliptical machines now allow you to stay seated while you exercise.  This makes them even easier on the knees.

Swimming is another option.

“Aquatic exercises are great because it takes the pressure off all the joints.”

Angie says weight bearing exercises are also important to strengthen the muscles around the joints.

“Traditional squats and lunges sometimes are out,” says Angie.  “You have to be careful of the shoulders, lower back – those are common places to get arthritis.”

Instead, try modifying the exercise.  For instance, if push-ups on the floor hurt, move to a wall.  If a flare up prevents you from lifting weights, try resistance bands instead.  Bottom line:  Don’t let arthritis stop you from moving.