Blogs > Simply Fit

Simply Fit, by Cindy Haskin-Popp, will help you make physical activity a part of everyday life. The health benefits of regular exercise and overall daily physical activity will be discussed. Fun, practical and easy-to-follow tips on an exercise program will be shared, as will the most current research. Fitness tips for families and seniors, on fitness centers and on buying proper and affordable equipment will be regularly given. 

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Exercising with Arthritis - Can it be Done?

Forty-six million Americans, about 1 in 5, report being diagnosed with arthritis by their doctors, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCDPHP). This number is projected to increase to 67 million by the year 2030, limiting the activity levels of more than one-third of the adults affected by the condition. The May 1, 2009 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) reports that an analysis conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Census Bureau revealed arthritis to be the most common cause of disability in the United States.

Over 100 different rheumatic conditions and diseases fall under the arthritis category. Osteoarthritis is the most common form, affecting approximately 27 million adults in 2005, according to the NCCDPHP. The Arthritis Foundation defines osteoarthritis as "a chronic condition characterized by the breakdown of the joint's cartilage... the breakdown of cartilage causes the bones to rub against each other, causing stiffness, pain, and loss of movement in the joint."

Osteoarthritis, also known as osteoarthroses or degenerative joint disease, most commonly effects the knee, hip, low back, neck, and hand joints. Common symptoms include pain/stiffness in the effected joint after extended periods of inactivity (e.g., upon waking in the morning after a night's rest) or after prolonged use (e.g., a day of yard work).

Risk Factors for Osteoarthritis
  • Physical inactivity
  • Overweight/obesity - heavier body weights are associated with an increased risk for the development and progression of osteoarthritis of the knee joint (3 in 5 people who are obese are at risk for developing knee osteoarthritis)
  • Joint and/or nerve injury
  • Overuse of the joint
  • Genetics/heredity
  • Age - the incidence of arthritis increases with advancing age, with approximately 50% of adults 65 years and older reporting doctor-diagnosed arthritis
  • Gender - women are at a greater risk for developing arthritis (28.3 million women are affected compared to 18.1 million men)
Diagnosis of Osteoarthritis
  • Positive medical history and physical exam
Prevention and Management of Osteoarthritis - Treatment options are based on the severity of the symptoms. The goal is to decrease pain and improve joint mobility. Your doctor may recommend:
  • Medication, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines, to reduce pain and swelling
  • Weight management
  • Joint protection/avoid joint injury (e.g., avoid high impact activity)
  • Supplementation with glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate
  • Surgery
  • Exercise
The Role of Physical Activity in the Prevention and Management of Osteoarthritis
The role exercise plays in reducing your risk for conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes is well known. However, arthritis can be a barrier to exercise due to painful joints and the fear of triggering pain. Fortunately, when the proper mode and technique of exercise is performed, physical activity can help to keep your joints flexible, reduce joint pain, improve function during day-to-day activities, boost mental health, increase muscular strength, help to reduce and maintain body weight, and enhance quality of life. To improve overall health, it is important for you to learn how to successfully incorporate exercise in to your life.

General Exercise Guidelines for Individuals with Arthritis - exercises should be matched to the severity of the arthritis, the joints effected, and to physical capabilities
  • Engage in activities that are low impact, such as bicycling, swimming, and walking
  • Warm-up prior to and cool-down after exercise, for 5-10 minutes each, to minimize pain
  • Avoid activities that result in increased joint pain that lasts longer than 2 hours after exercise
  • Participate in flexibility and range of motion exercises
  • Perform strength training exercises, particularly of the muscles surrounding the effected joint (isometric contractions, as opposed to weight lifting, may be required initially)
  • Exercise during periods of the day when joint pain is least severe
  • As fitness/ability improve, duration, rather than intensity, should be increased because pain may limit the achievement of higher intensity levels
  • Alternating periods of exercise and rest may be beneficial (e.g., walk for 5 minutes, rest for 2 minutes)
  • Several sessions of short duration throughout the day may be more tolerable than one session of a longer duration
If you are interested in learning more about how you can maintain an active lifestyle in the presence of arthritis, the Arthritis Foundation, Michigan Chapter, is offering a free informational program, "Arthritis in Motion: Sports, Exercise, Play and Arthritis," this coming Tuesday evening, October 6, at the Mt. Clemens Community Center. According to Kara Dorda, Manager of Community Education for the Arthritis Foundation, Michigan Chapter, this event will feature presentations by local Orthopedic Surgeon, Wayne M. Gunkle, DO, Sports Psychologists John Pietrofesa, EdD and Cathy Pietrofesa, PhD, and Physical Therapist Kim Smith, DPT.

Topics to be addressed by the presenters will include:
  • Common forms of arthritis
  • Diagnosis
  • Treatment
  • Prevention and management strategies such as how to break the pain cycle and protect your joints
  • How to create a fitness program that meets your personal needs.
Dorda states that the evening starts at 5:30 p.m. with light refreshments. Presentations begin at 6:00 p.m. and last until 8:30 p.m. Time will be alloted for questions and answers. Dorda notes that registration is required and still open. Call 1-800-968-3030 to reserve your seat today. If you call after hours, you may leave your name, number, and email address. Information can be faxed or emailed to you. The event is located at the Mt. Clemens Community Center, 300 N Groesbeck Hwy, Mt. Clemens, MI 48043.

If you are unable to attend the October 6th program, a similar event will be offered on Thursday, October 22, 2009 at Oakwood Southshore Medical Center, Nasir Auditorium, 5450 Fort Street, Trenton, MI 48183. Call the 1-800 number above to reserve a spot.

Information on both events is also available at

Note: Before beginning an exercise program or increasing the intensity level of a current routine, a physician's approval should be obtained, especially for older adults and those at risk for or who currently have chronic health conditions.


ACSM's Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription, eighth edition

ACSM's Exercise Management for Persons with Chronic Diseases and Disabilities, 1997

Labels: , , , , ,


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just want to say that I have read all of your postings and am quite impressed. They offer the right combination of reliable information, readability, and the suggestions are readily implemented. Also, the "motivational" pieces add a nice mix and are a good incentive to use the suggestions given. Keep up the great work.

October 7, 2009 at 11:48 AM 

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home