Assisted Living with Arthritis | Just Keep Moving
The change of seasons can be challenging times for seniors with arthritis. Temperature fluctuations can exacerbate rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA). Both involve inflammation in the joints, but RA causes much more inflammation.
The last thing anyone wants to do when tired and in pain is to be physically active. But research shows that exercise can help to relieve arthritis symptoms and improve day-to-day functioning.
Many medications treat arthritis, but there are side effects assisted living adults find uncomfortable. Often senior living communities recommend seniors engage in low-impact exercises regularly to minimize symptoms of osteoarthritis.
How can a low-impact form of exercise improve mental and physical well-being? The answer lies in greater muscle mass and increased flexibility.
Low Impact Exercise Improves Health by:
- Increasing Flexibility: Inactivity causes joints to become even stiffer, limiting mobility. Gentle but steady stretching exercises result in greater flexibility helping to relieve pain and swelling.
- Strengthening Muscles: Building strength in the muscles that surround joints damaged by arthritis can reduce pressure, swelling, and pain.
- Overall fitness: People who regularly practice low-impact exercises have good overall strength and learn breathing techniques that help reduce stress.
People with RA who exercise may find less pain than those who do not. Exercise can reduce symptoms, improve joint function and flexibility, increase range of motion, and boost mood.
What are the Best Exercises for Arthritis?
In Spring Gardens Assisted Living we encourage our senior community to keep moving for better mobility. The following exercises may help relieve the symptoms caused by RA and OA:
Stretching helps improve flexibility, reduces joint pain and stiffness, increases range of motion, and relieves arthritis symptoms.
The ideal stretching routine differs for each person depending on which joints are affected. But in general, stretches often involve slowly moving the joints of the hips, knees, hands, and elbows.
Some people may find it easier to work with a physical therapist who understands arthritis and the correct way to perform specific stretches.
Walking is a low-impact exercise that helps the heart and joints, improving overall mood.Wear proper shoes and always stay hydrated, even if the walking is not strenuous.
Tai chi and Yoga
Tai chi and Yoga combine deep breathing, gentle flowing movements, poses, and meditation. They increase flexibility, balance, and range of motion while reducing stress.
They also reduce anxiety, depression, and fatigue while increasing self-motivation and self-esteem.
Pilates is a low-impact activity that increases flexibility for enhanced joint health. Pilates poses activate core muscles and emphasizes movements that help with stability. Pilates can suit overall movement patterns, similar to tai chi and Yoga.
Water exercises are great because they help support body weight by minimizing gravity and not heavily impacting the joints.
Swimming, aerobics, and other water exercises can increase flexibility, range of motion, and strength while reducing stress and stiffness in the joints.
Cycling gets the joints moving and improves cardiovascular fitness. A great benefit is having a stationary bike where one can be supervised while riding.
Cycling reduces stiffness in the joints, increases range of motion, and improves leg strength and endurance. At Spring Gardens Senior Living in Lindon, we are proud to offer a modern fitness center for your convenience.
When we strengthen the muscles, we can help increase strength and endurance, which helps support the surrounding joints. Strength training increases the ability to do daily tasks by easing pain and stiffness, building bone health, maintaining a healthy weight, and improving overall balance.
It reduces fatigue and lowers the risk for cardiovascular disease — a leading cause of death for people living with rheumatoid arthritis.
Using a resistance band is a great way to challenge the body and build muscle.
Rheumatoid arthritis affects the joints in the fingers, thumbs, and wrists. They can sometimes become stiff and swollen and limit use for everyday tasks like brushing your teeth or opening jars. A person with arthritis may lose their grip and find that they are dropping things.
Bending the wrists, slowly curling the fingers in, spreading the fingers out wide, and squeezing a stress ball can all help increase strength and flexibility in the hands.
Light gardening is a beneficial exercise for a person with RA. People should be gentle with their bodies, work slowly, and avoid overstraining their muscles and joints. The most important thing is to properly hinge at the hips and avoid twisting, which strains the lower back.
Extra Tips When Exercising With RA and OA
- Be consistent
- Accessorize for comfort and protection
- Seek variety
- Adjust exercises according to symptoms
- Listen to the body
- Pay attention to small groups of muscles
- Work with a physical therapist