What’s Good and Best Isn’t Easy or Fun…at First

What’s Good and Best Isn’t Easy or Fun…at First

This morning, as I went through my normal morning routine, I realized how much I enjoy it. But I can remember when I first started, or introduced a new element, it wasn’t easy. It wasn’t fun either. I had to use self-discipline and a lot of self-talk to get it in gear every day. Now, it feels strange if I don’t do something that’s become ingrained behavior.

That got me thinking about exercise for those who suffer joint pain, stiffness, and all the accompanying discomfort. Those symptoms often give you a reasonable excuse to not exercise and to give in to the desire to stay inactive. But the counterintuitive response is preferable if you have arthritis. It’s a case of recognizing that you exercise because you have arthritis.

If you have arthritis, you have even more reason to exercise than someone who doesn’t. You would benefit more from staying active and in motion because:

  • This keeps your joints in motion – which prevents stiffness.
  • Exercise strengthens the muscles that support your joints.
  • Bone and cartilage tissue needs exercise for health and strength.
  • Overall fitness benefits your quality of life, and improves your health.

Like any exercise though, please check with your doctor and/or (even better) – a physical therapist – before starting any exercise routines. Get professional guidance as to what exercise, how often, and how to do it. We tend to assume that we know how to do what we plan to do. When you take the time (and make the investment) to have even one session with a professional, you will reap the benefits over and over.

One of the lessons is that of stretching before exercise.

In a recent conversation with a non-arthritis sufferer, who has previously experienced issues with his lower back, he talked about learning to stretch and how much it has helped him. I must confess that like my friend, I’ve always been terrible at stretching before exercise, or just stretching for relief. He’s challenged me to do better with stretching!  In fact, I found this great article that shares some great stretches that relieve lower back pain. Before my swim tomorrow, I plan on doing some stretches and also taking a few minutes to warm up!

The primary types of exercise include: cardiovascular (fitness); muscle strengthening, and flexibility – the exercises that help you with range of motion, and overall flexibility.

Over the decades, research has changed regarding what it good vs. bad for arthritis sufferers to do for exercise. Especially for post-menopausal women at risk for, or with existing, osteopenia or osteoporosis. If possible, don’t avoid weight bearing exercise altogether. Consult with your doctor and get guidance on your overall exercise regime.

The swimming pool is one of the best places to exercise if you have to be careful with bone health. Any type of exercise can be done in the pool – be sure to consult with a physical trainer qualified in aqua exercises of all types.

Weight bearing (being on your feet) exercise helps strengthen your bones, joints and surrounding muscles.

This can be high or low impact.

High impact would include:

  • Dancing
  • Running, or slow jogging
  • Climbing stairs
  • Playing tennis or pickle ball
  • Aerobics

None of these should be started without professional guidance, especially if you have osteoporosis. Start slowly and gradually build up your resistance and tolerance as you get fitter and stronger.

Lower impact weight bearing exercise includes:

  • Walking (preferably on the earth, not tarmac, concrete, or even some treadmills.)
  • Using a stair-step or elliptical machine.

We’ve also previously addressed the importance of muscle strength, too, especially when you have arthritis. Muscle strength is also an important safety concern – the stronger you are, the less likely your are to get injured in a fall.

To build muscle, here are some ideas…remember though, to get a professional to guide you when you first start.

  • Using dumbbells (start with 2, 3 o 5 lb) with specific limb motions
  • Use elastic exercise bands
  • Learning how to life your own body weight. (especially helpful getting up off the floor…)
  • Practice squats, bend overs, standing up on your toes, and then back on your heels (hold onto a chair for that) and other exercises that stretch and strengthen your muscles.

As you age – certain muscles can get weaker. I read once that the #1 reason many seniors are forced to move to assisted living, is because they can’t get up from, or sit down on, the toilet or even their favorite arm chair. It’s also likely that they can’t get up off the floor if they fall. You can design strengthening and movement exercises to prevent this, by building your strength, muscle tone, and keeping your joints limber and moving well.

No matter what type of weight bearing exercise you choose, the fact that you do it is what matters. Here’s a great article about when to rest, and when to exercise. Remember – you know your body well. If you’re in pain, injured, or in some other discomfort that is the result of overdoing it, or even an injury – choose to rest and heal. If you’re just stiff and sore (same ‘ole, same ‘ole) perhaps its time to put those sneakers on, or turn up some music, and get moving!

At Haraka, we constantly advocate for healthy living.

If you haven’t yet enrolled in a FREE TRIAL – give us a call today.

Till next time, here’s to your Limber Life!

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