It’s a basic instinct for your body to want to protect itself when it’s in pain. When this pain is associated with stiff joints and arthritis, regular exercise may be the last thing on your mind.
According to statistics sourced from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), 3.85 million Australians are currently living with arthritis, or 18% of the population.
The total cost to the Australian economy is estimated to be at $23.9 billion in 2007.1 Arthritis itself is simply an umbrella term for around 120 different variations of the disease.
As tempting as it may be to forgo exercise when you’re suffering, it may actually be doing you more harm than good, according to exercise physiologist Jonathon Freeman. In fact, lack of exercise may cause further stress to joints.
The hardest part about introducing exercise into your daily routine is actually starting. You should be aiming for at least 30 minutes of gentle exercise each day. Don’t think that you have to do 30 minutes straight – you can break this up into two or even three sessions if you are experiencing pain or discomfort.
Low impact exercise such as walking, gentle running, or stretching is a great way to increase overall strength and flexibility. It’s an added bonus that it will help to combat fatigue and reduce pain in your joints.
For those suffering osteoarthritis, swimming is also an excellent alternative, as it is non weight bearing and causes minimal pain.
You should always check with your doctor or physiotherapist before commencing an exercise program – this will ensure that your program is tailored to your individual condition and/or experience, and that you are not doing any further harm to your joints.
“I see a lot of discouraged patients who are experiencing pain after exercise. Ensuring that you are maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly may help with some of this pain,” Mr Freeman said.
However it should be noted that it will not cure it entirely. You may also consider using a topical treatment such as Flexiseq, which provides clinically proven targeted relief of joint pain associated with osteoarthritis and helps to improve joint mobility and to reduce stiffness.
- Arthritis and Osteoporosis NSW, latest statistics http://arthritisnsw.org.au/arthritis/research/latest-statistics/ (accessed 23/05/16)