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News Letter

Home Health Education Living With Joint Pain
Walking with Arthritis: An Exercise with Benefits for Body and Mind Print E-mail

If you suffer from arthritis, finding the right type of exercise is not always an easy thing to do. Choose something you can enjoy doing so you’ll stick with it. Walking, even if you don’t walk fast, can be very enjoyable and beneficial. You don’t need special equipment and you can set your own pace. Walking costs nothing but a good pair of shoes and you can do it any time of day.

Walking can be good for people with arthritis. It’s an endurance exercise, which means it strengthens your heart, helps your lungs work more efficiently and gives you more stamina so you don’t tire as easily. As a weight-bearing exercise (putting full weight on your bones), walking helps strengthen bones, reducing the risk of osteoporosis (thinning of the bones). Walking strengthens your muscles and helps maintain joint flexibility, “Walking with Arthritis”, Arthritis Foundation (2003).

Stretching before Walking

Before you begin your daily walk or exercise, make stretching a routine, with the goal of helping to maximize your joints’ range of motion. Proper stretching actually lengthens the muscle tissue, making it less tight and therefore less prone to trauma and tears.

Walking as Part of Your Daily Routine

For many people with arthritis, finding the time and motivation to exercise is difficult. Here are a few tips to help make walking part of your daily routine.

  • Park farther from building entrances or get off the train one stop earlier and walk the rest of the way.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Walk down the hall instead of using the phone or e-mail.
  • Take a morning or afternoon walking break.
  • Take a walk before or after dinner.
  • Go to the park or zoo with your family.
  • Make a Saturday morning walk a family activity.
Good for the Body and the Mind

In addition to the physical benefits, walking also brings a host of psychological perks to people with arthritis. Regular exercise like walking may help you sleep better, control your weight and lift your spirits. Walking for exercise can also play an important part in combating the depression, fatigue and stress which may accompany your arthritis.

Conclusion

Generally, when beginning a walking program, you should start slowly and build up gradually. Also, wear supportive walking shoes and replace them often. Depending on how far you walk, you could need new shoes every four to six months.

Before beginning any exercise program including walking, people with arthritis should check with their physician. They can make recommendations on the length and frequency of your walks based on your specific medical condition.
 

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