Lack of exercise can do more harm that you might suspect, especially for arthritis sufferers. It can make your joints stiffer, less mobile and more likely to break down further, faster. As with anyone starting to exercise after not being active for any period of time it is best to consult your doctor. They will be able to give a professional opinion of how much activity is appropriate for you, and what you should focus on.
Walking is great exercise; whether outside in nice weather, or in a mall, gym or the comfort of your own home with the help of treadmill. If walking is your exercise of choice many malls open their exterior doors to the public long before the stores open for business. This can make for a nice, warm environment for an early morning walk. Bonuses to this exercise include benches if you need a break and the opportunity to meet and walk with others taking their morning walks as well. Walking is also free; all you really need is a pair of sneakers with adequate support and the will to get going. Walking during normal business hours works as well, but then you have to deal with crowds and the temptations of the food court.
Water work might not be what you think of in the winter, but a nice warm pool in the winter can feel great. Some town have municipal pools that and indoors and the YMCA often does as well. If there is an indoor pool at one of these local facilities, or at a gym you feel comfortable in, then there are also likely water aerobic or water yoga classes offered. Any of these classes can be modified to fit the participant’s needs. Exercising in water offers overall conditioning for the body with little to no stress on the joints. Many people discover that their pain is reduced while they are in the water, but that the relief and increased mobility lasts for hours after the exercise. If you are feeling up to more vigorous water work a nice swim could be the answer. When swimming you use more than two thirds of your muscles, which results in a great total body workout. Besides, on a cold winter day when you cannot seem to get warm a nice, warm swim sounds great. Just be sure to dry your hair before stepping back out into the cold.
Simple stretching is important and can help you stay fit and flexible. Some Basic stretches can be done in just a few minutes at a time as you feel comfortable. For example, to stretch your neck simply sit up straight and while facing straight ahead drop your head to the right, like you are attempting to touch your ear to your shoulder. Place you right hand over the top of your head and your left hand on top of your shoulder. Exert gentle pressure with each hand to stretch your neck muscles. Repeat for the other side. To stretch your hand and wrist make a fist then fling your fingers out to their straightened position with your fingers spread. Return your hand to the fist position and repeat five times for each hand. To stretch your side stand up straight with your feet about eighteen inches apart. Bend your left elbow and place your left hand at your waist. Lift your right arm straight up, above your head, while trying to keep your right shoulder level with the left. Bend slowly toward the left while keeping your right arm above your head. Hold that position and count to five. Slowly return to an upright position and repeat for the other side. These are just some of the basic stretches. When you consult with your doctor about starting an exercise routine they can suggest some that would help your specific physical condition. For adventurous stretchers you can take this to the next level and try yoga.
Chair dancing is doable for just about everyone, and it is fun. While sitting in your chair you can perform the heel-toe polka, the hora, the shuffle-off-to-buffalo, or many other dances all while sitting in a chair. With a little imagination, music and good humor just about any dance can be done this way. For the heel-toe polka the count simply goes heel, toe, step-together-step. Start with your right foot. Touch your right heel to the floor, then your right toe. Step to your right side with your right foot and then bring your left foot to meet it. Step to the right again with your right foot. Then do the reverse, left heel touch left toe touch, side step with left, bring right to meet it, step left. Repeat and enjoy. With the hora, start with your right foot and step to the side. Cross behind your right foot with your left. Step to the side with your right. Do a small kick with your left foot then your right, and then do the entire thing in reverse. Side step with your left, back with your right, side with your left, kick right, kick left. If you get bored dancing you can move on to chair fencing. Exercise does not need to be monotonous or painful. Have some fun with it!
If you are looking to get moving to relieve and reduce the affects of arthritis but need some more ideas or support there is help available. The Arthritis Foundation has a Let’s Move Together program to encourage, inspire and support those with arthritis in the quest to keep everyone active and moving. To take part in this program, or for more information visit http://lmt.arthritis.org/index.php . The Arthritis Foundation also offers information and programs for aquatic exercise and tai chi DVD’s, to find out what certified programs are available near you find your local office here .