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Exercise and Osteoarthritis

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Updated October 24, 2012

What is osteoarthritis?

What is osteoarthritis?

Photo © Blausen Medical
The Arthritis Foundation, sports medicine physicians and researchers all agree that proper exercise can help control pain and other symptoms of osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a regenerative joint disease characterized by a deterioration of joint cartilage (a smooth covering in normal joints). It can occur in any joint in the body. In the past it was thought to be caused by wear and tear on the cartilage of a joint. More recently, it's been called an active disease process that causes destruction to the cartilage surface without adequate repair. While there is no cure for osteoarthritis, it can be effectively treated with various medications and lifestyle habits.

Exercise is one of the best treatments for osteoarthritis. Ask your doctor for an exercise prescription based upon your particular situations. The best exercises for osteoarthritis suffers depend on what joints are affected. Swimming, walking, and cycling are often the best exercises for people with osteoarthritis. Try to get thirty minutes of exercise five times per week. The key is to start slowly.

Build up your endurance slowly and increase the length of sessions by no more than 10 percent per week. Over time you can build up time and resistance. Your heart rate should increase and you should break a sweat, but don't go so hard that you can't hold a conversation without gasping for breath.

Maintaining a healthy body weight can reduce stress and pressure on your joints; excess body weight causes more wear and tear on the joints. Exercise, combined with healthy eating, is the best strategy for successful, permanent weight loss.

Strength training can be done by those with osteoarthritis. Lifting light weights or using an exercise machine builds muscle throughout the body.

If you have a flare up in one of your joints consider trying another exercise that doesn't use that joint.

Related Video
Simple Exercise Warm Up

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