Active Senior with Osteoarthritis

Activity Modification for Osteoarthritis

For people with osteoarthritis, activity modification is a lifestyle change that can help relieve the symptoms of osteoarthritis and improve overall well being.

The symptoms of osteoarthritis may prevent some people from participating in activities they once enjoyed. Some people decrease their level of physical activity in order to reduce the pain and inflammation of their osteoarthritic joints. While decreasing activity may help reduce pain and inflammation, it is important to know that decreased activity has negative effects as well. Weight gain decreased cardiovascular fitness, and progressive muscle weakness are all negative effects of decreased activity.

Can people with osteoarthritis benefit from an exercise program?

Most people with osteoarthritis will benefit from an appropriate activity or exercise program. People with osteoarthritis often report a decrease in their symptoms, improved overall function and a better sense of well being. In fact, for some people, an appropriate and consistent activity or exercise program can decrease or eliminate the need to take medications. The key is to achieve a balance between the above mentioned desired effects of an activity or exercise program and the unwanted effects of too much exercise.

What are the goals of an exercise program for osteoarthritis?

The goals of an activity or exercise program include improving muscle strength, muscle flexibility, and joint mobility. Improving or maintaining overall cardiovascular fitness is an added benefit. The best exercises for people with osteoarthritis are those that minimize the impact on the affected joint. Swimming, water running and pool exercises are all examples of activities that most people with osteoarthritis can participate in. Cycling places less stress on weight-bearing joints than “high impact” activities such as running and jumping. High impact activities should be avoided as they can speed up the progression of osteoarthritis. A doctor should be consulted prior to starting any activity or exercise program.