We are going to focus this week on the benefits of exercising to aid arthritis and fibromyalgia sufferers. Aging brings on a lot of maladies, with arthritis near the top of the list. Fibromyalgia is a common and increasingly recognized condition. It is easy to see why arthritis/fibromyalgia and an active life can be hard to combine. When you want to exercise but aren’t sure what to do, the pain, stiffness, and the fear of doing harm can be powerful forces to overcome. Until recently, many people with arthritis knew they should “exercise for arthritis / fibromyalgia”; however, they thought exercising for fun and fitness was only for others. A regular exercise program that includes flexibility, strengthening, and aerobic exercises lessens fatigue, builds stronger muscles and bones, increases your flexibility, gives you more stamina, and improves your general health and sense of well-being – all important for good arthritic and fibromyalgia care. People with these conditions have improved fitness with exercise that includes walking, bicycling, or aquatic exercise. After two or three months most exercisers also reported less pain, anxiety, and depression. Traditional medical care of arthritis and fibromyalgia is based on helping people mainly when their condition “flares.” During a flare it’s important to rest more and to protect the inflamed joints. But continuing to be inactive after the flare is over can be bad for your health and actually increase some of the problems. Unused joints, bones, and muscles deteriorate quickly. Long periods of inactivity can lead to weakness, stiffness, fatigue, poor appetite, constipation, high blood pressure, obesity, osteoporosis, and increased sensitivity to pain, anxiety, and depression. What exactly is Physical Fitness? Physical fitness for people is much like good maintenance and proper use for an automobile. Both allow you to start when you want, enjoy a smooth and relaxed trip, get to your destination without a breakdown and have some fuel in your tank when you arrive. How well an automobile works depends on its points and plugs, filters, hoses, tires, lubrication, and fuel systems. Physical fitness for humans is a combination of the following:
- Cardiovascular fitness (heart, lungs, and blood vessels)
- Muscle strength
- Muscle endurance
- Percent of body fat.
An exercise program to improve physical fitness includes exercises for flexibility, strength, endurance, and cardiovascular fitness. How you choose to combine these different types of exercise depends on your current abilities, exercise experience, and the goals you want to accomplish. Always check with your physician before you begin any exercise program. Flexibility Exercises – The Activity Center has Yoga classes on Tuesdays at 10:15 a.m. and Friday at 10:15 a.m. to aid in acquiring greater flexibility. Strengthening Exercises – Visit Stretch and Tone Mondays at 10:15 a.m., Wednesdays at 7:45 a.m. and Fridays at 11:45 a.m. to build your muscles and improve strength. You may want to make an appointment with Carole Wardell, our personal trainer, to give you additional tips for strength training. Aerobic Exercises – The list of classes available at the Activity Center to improve your aerobic activity are too numerous to list here, we have water aerobics every day of the week at various times to fit your schedule; and we have land aerobics classes Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 9:00 a.m. All of these classes are intended to improve your strength and get you more “aerobically fit.” Check the calendar located at the Activity Center for days and times. How Much Exercise Is Enough? – How often you exercise, what you do, and how much you do depend on your health and fitness now and what you want to accomplish with exercise. It is important to know when you have reached your goal and can say, “This is right for me.” More is not always better. How much exercise is enough for general health? To be active enough to be in the category of people who have less risk of heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure than people who are sedentary and do no physical activity, strive for aerobic exercise such as walking, 3-5 days a week at a low to moderate exertion. Work towards 20 to 30 minutes of exercise each day, and it can be 5 minutes 4 times a day, 10 minutes 3 times a day, or 30 minutes all at once. Remember, consistency is the key. If you keep exercising, even moderately, you will increase your all-around fitness and see improvements in your flexibility, strength, endurance and weight. Build your exercise program as you gain strength. The information above is from “The Arthritis Helpbook” A Tested Self-Management Program for Coping with Arthritis and Fibromyalgia The next page has a low fat, quick and healthy recipe for you to try: Add a side salad to the meal and dinner is done. These recipes came from Quick and Healthy, Volume II. Enjoy and have a great week.