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Almost everyone will experience some form of arthritis as they get older. It occurs when one or more joints become inflamed, causing stiffness and pain that worsens over time. There are over 100 kinds of arthritis diseases, with the most well-known being rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. If you have arthritis, you may feel as though you are unable to exercise due to the pain and stiffness. However, there are plenty of exercises you can do that will not just keep you healthy, but may even reduce the symptoms of arthritis. Research has shown that careful exercise and movement can help patients who suffer from this common disease.

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Shoulder Rolls

Shoulder rolls are one of the most effective exercises for people who experience back stiffness, shoulder joint pain, or other arthritis symptoms in the upper body. To do them, stand with your feet set at shoulder width and your back straight. You can also sit for this exercise if standing is too difficult. Then, roll your shoulders backward, makings sure to follow the natural upward-moving path. Repeat this motion five times, then roll your shoulders forward five times. This exercise will work the shoulder joints without causing a lot of pressure, increasing mobility without pain. After doing shoulder rolls daily for several days, continue to add repetitions to increase stamina.

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Leg Lifts

Another exercise that can help to relieve arthritis symptoms is leg lifts. Leg lifts are beneficial to patients with hip or knee problems, as they provide a low-impact way of moving the joint. Sit on a flat chair with your knees at least two inches away from the chair. If you have concerns about balance, you can use a chair with armrests for safety. Then, slowly extend your leg straight out, raising it just slightly above the chair. Repeat this ten times on each leg, and add repetitions each week as you build endurance. You should feel some stretching in your leg, but if it is painful, stop and talk to your doctor before continuing.

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Chair Sits

Many people who suffer from arthritis in the back, shoulders or hips have difficulty sitting down or rising from a sitting position. If you are one of those people, you may benefit from chair sits. Place a sturdy chair with arm rests against a wall for extra support. Then, stand in front of the chair and slowly lower yourself into a seated position. After 30 seconds, slowly rise back up. Do this five times, and increase the amount of times each week. Arthritis patients often find that prolonged sitting exacerbates their symptoms, but these brief exercises can help to get the joints moving instead of becoming stiff.

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Resistance Band Training

Resistance bands are very popular among people with injuries, and patients with arthritis should try them too. Resistance bands are stretchy strips of rubbery material that can help to make normal stretching more of a workout. This can make them good tools to intensify leg and arm stretches. For example, you can hold the resistance band firmly in both hands, stretching it out when you reach forward or side to side. You can also stand on the middle of the resistance band, forcing it away from your body when you stretch your legs. Your physician will be able to recommend resistance band exercises that would most benefit you based on your affected joints.

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Wall Pushups

Although pushups are one of the best exercises, many arthritis patients would laugh at the idea of laying down on the floor to exercise. It can be difficult to get back up from such low ground, so try pushups with a twist and do them standing up. Find a flat wall and stand a little less than an arm's length away from it. Place your palms flat on the wall at shoulder height, and slowly lower yourself towards the wall. Push off to complete the exercise. Try to do at least 15 to start with, since they are a very low impact exercise.

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Water Aerobics

Water aerobics is one of the most commonly recommended exercises for those who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis. Because water is so high-density, it slows down your movements and allows you to exercise without the impact that you would normally feel doing the same motions outside of the pool. There is also a decreased danger of falling or fracturing bones while submerged in water. Water aerobics can incorporate a lot of different exercises, but the most common are leg kicks, knee lifts, and bicep curls. Most recreation or senior centers offer aerobics classes that are specially geared toward to low-impact exercises.

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Bicep Curls

To increase joint movement in the shoulders, bicep curls can be a valuable tool. To do this exercise, hold a lightweight object, such as a one-pound weight, in each hand. Extend your arms out in front of you at roughly shoulder height, with your palms facing upwards. Then, slowly pull each weight towards you, bending at the elbow but keeping your wrists straight. Form a 90-degree angle at the elbow, hold for three seconds, and lower your arms back to starting position. This will also benefit your elbow joints, since they will be doing most of the work.

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Wrist Stretches

For those with severe arthritis, even the smallest exercises can be beneficial. Stretching your wrist can help to relieve inflammation in the hands, which can make other activities much easier to complete. Start by holding your arms out in front of you, with your wrists flat. With palms facing down, flex your wrist upward and downward, holding each position for three seconds. Try to do this for 10-15 repetitions on each hand, building up your endurance over time. This will help to build muscles in your forearms and wrists, and should help to decrease stiffness in the joint.

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Walking

When thinking of the best exercises, many people neglect to consider walking. Walking is a great low-impact exercise that requires no equipment, and it can be done anywhere. Buy a pair of comfortable shoes designed for walking, and wear loose, comfortable clothes. Try to walk for half an hour at least five times a week, no matter where you are. Some ideal places for walking include parks, shopping malls, your neighborhood, and even the grocery store. Even walking around your home can help to decrease arthritic pain and stiffness. Plus, walking can also benefit your health in plenty of other ways, like weight loss and improving cardiovascular health.

walking with arthritis

Golf

There's good news for the golf fans of the world: research has shown that golf is an ideal exercise for arthritis patients. Whether you like to spend mornings on the greens with friends or you prefer to go it alone at the driving range, the motions involved with golf are perfect for those suffering from arthritic pain. Holding the club utilizes wrist, hand and finger joints, while your swing involves just about every joint in the body. Add in the fact that golf courses usually require a large amount of walking, too, and it's one of the best ways to reduce your symptoms and keep you healthy.

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Alphabet Stretches

If you suffer from arthritis, you may benefit from doing alphabet stretches. These involve focusing on one limb at a time, and they're a great way to practice different ranges of motion. To start, extend your right arm and use it to write the alphabet in the air. Repeat this process with your left arm and both legs individually. You can vary the exercise to use smaller joints, like ankles or wrists, or try to work on the range of your hips and shoulders. Because this exercise is so customizable, it's a great option for those who want to start small and work up to more intense workouts.

stretches for arthritis

Tai Chi

Although Tai Chi might sound like an odd way to work arthritic joints, it actually is a great form of exercise. Most of the motions in Tai Chi are gentle, sweeping motions, which makes it beneficial for those who have joint pain and stiffness. In addition, it is also very customizable. There are many Tai Chi classes at varying levels of intensity, and it is easy to find one that matches your physical abilities. You can also practice it in the comfort of your own home, with no extra equipment. Be sure to wear comfortable, loose clothing that will allow you to move easily, and see your doctor if you have any difficulties with the stretches.

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Knee Lifts

Hip and knee pain are two of the most common ailments of those with arthritis, but you can fight against arthritic problems in these joints by practicing knee lifts. Stand with your back against a wall for support, or hold on to a sturdy table or chair. Bend your leg at the knee as you lift it in the air, making a marching motion. Hold it there for just a moment, then lower it back to the ground as you straighten it. Although you may not be able to bend your knees and lift them very high, this will reduce stiffness caused by inflammation and immobility.

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Biking

Biking is a great way to work all of your joints without high-impact stress. You can consult a professional for tips on how to pick a bike that is appropriate for your age and height, but in general, you should pick something with a comfortable seat and handlebars that allow you to sit up straight. Biking is good for reducing stiffness in the knee and ankle joints, since peddling requires you to move these joints continuously. You can also use a stationary exercise bike, but many experts believe that biking is more beneficial on a regular bicycle.

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Water Walking

Unlike water aerobics, water walking is a much slower and gentler way to exercise. While all forms of pool exercises are ideal for arthritic joints, water walking is one of the absolute best. Many recreation centers have lap pools that can be used for this activity, and you don't need to join a class to reap the benefits. Instead, water walking is a very simple activity that requires you to walk around the pool at your own pace. It is best done in water that is waist or chest high, so that you experience some resistance but are still able to keep your head well above water.

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Disclaimer

This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.