Working out through the pain: Why seniors should exercise with arthritis

Arthritis is among the most common ailments that threaten the independence of seniors. According to The Arthritis Society, an estimated 4.5 million Canadians are faced with pain, stiffness and discomfort caused by the condition, and it can make it especially difficult for them to maintain an active lifestyle. This often presents a problem, because staying physically active and exercising are some of the best ways for seniors to mitigate their arthritis symptoms. Although it may seem challenging, there are some steps older adults can take to exercise while still managing pain resulting from arthritis.

Manage pain first
Most importantly, seniors with arthritis should make sure their pain is under control before they begin any substantial exercise regimen. As such, older adults should be sure to get an official diagnosis so they can be prescribed the appropriate medication  to ease the pain. With the right treatment approach, seniors are often able to exercise without having to worry about making their arthritis worse, reported.

Ease into it
It’s important to warm up joints and muscles before exercising, regardless of how old a person is, but if he or she is an older adult managing arthritis, it is even more essential. Before beginning a workout, even if it’s a gentle routine such as walking, swimming or cycling, seniors should make sure to perform range-of-motion stretches such as arm circles or toe touches. Using a heat pack to loosen up muscles is also a smart idea.

Pick the right activity
While choosing to exercise is one of the best ways to manage and often relieve arthritis pain, it’s important for seniors to choose the right activities. After all, going for a long jog on hard pavement doesn’t seem like a feasible option for an older man battling stiff knees. Luckily, there are many other options available that are particularly well-suited to those living with joint stiffness and pain caused by arthritis. Water-based aerobics are often the best bet, according to the Mayo Clinic. Specifically, they give seniors an activity that can help control their weight, improve cardiovascular health and increase stamina, all while taking it easy on joints. Other effective options include gentle forms of yoga and Tai chi.