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Top 10 Reasons for Exercise When You Have Arthritis

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Updated November 13, 2008

"Unfortunately, many arthritis sufferers mistakenly believe that exercise will worsen their condition," said Dr. Cedric Bryant, chief exercise physiologist for ACE. "The reality, however, is that a well-rounded physical activity program of stretching, strength training and aerobic exercise can help minimize many of the adverse affects of arthritis and improve overall functional capacity."

In conjunction with National Arthritis Month, the American Council on Exercise (ACE), America's non-profit fitness advocate, suggests the following ten reasons for arthritis sufferers to start an exercise program.

1. Flexibility training helps improve range of motion and reduces stiffness in afflicted joints, particularly the early-morning stiffness often associated with arthritis.
Top 10 Reasons to Stretch

2. Aerobic exercise, particularly low-impact activities such as walking, not only improves overall fitness, but also helps reduce the psychological and emotional pain that often accompanies arthritis.
How to Start Walking

3. Strength training exercises help build muscle strength, enhance joint stability, and improve mobility making easier to perform activities of daily living.
Strength Training Principles and Guidelines

4. Weight-bearing (e.g., walking) or weight-loading (e.g., strength training) exercise positively affect bone mass, helping to reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis, a degenerative bone disease that is often seen in people with arthritis due to their reduced levels of physical activity.
Let's Get Walking - 4 Week Course

5. Arthritis can negatively affect posture, balance and coordination, all of which may be improved by regular exercise.
Walking Posture

6. Excess weight (especially in the form of extra body fat) places additional strain on the joints so maintaining a healthy body weight is very important for individuals with arthritis. Along with a sensible diet, exercise plays a
Walk of Life 10-Week Program

7. Stress:Exercise has been shown to help manage stress, which can take its toll on the whole body, including the joints.
Walking Away Stress

8. Depression: Because it is a chronic degenerative disease, people with arthritis often become depressed and develop a poor self-image. People who exercise, however, are less likely to be depressed and tend to possess more positive mental outlooks.
Walking Away the Blues

9. Sleep Disorders: Painful joints can make getting a good night's sleep difficult, if not impossible. Regular exercise has been shown to improve overall sleep patterns and may help lessen this problem.
10 Ways to Get a Better Night's Sleep

10. Health Risks of Being Sedentary: Because arthritis frequently leads to a more sedentary lifestyle, individuals with this condition are often at an increased risk of developing other significant health problems, such as heart disease or diabetes. Staying active and exercising regularly is an effective means of not only controlling the affects of arthritis, but also of minimizing or eliminating the risk of developing a variety of other lifestyle-related diseases.
Walking - the Miracle Cure

About ACE

The American Council on Exercise (ACE), America's Authority on Fitness, is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the benefits of physical activity and protecting consumers against unsafe and ineffective fitness products and instruction. As the nation's "workout watchdog," ACE sponsors university-based exercise science research and testing that targets fitness products and trends. ACE sets standards for fitness professionals and is the world's largest nonprofit fitness certifying organization. For more information on ACE and its programs, call (800) 825-3636 or log onto the Ace web site
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