September is Arthritis Awareness Month. Individuals with Arthritis most commonly suffer from chronic joint pain, stiffness and swelling. There are more than 100 different types of arthritis. According to Health Canada, “Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and the one most often found in seniors. It is also one of the major conditions that leads to disability in seniors and causes them to limit their activities”. Unfortunately, there is no cure for arthritis.
A major symptom of arthritis is pain. Many older adults who suffer from osteoarthritis refrain from exercise because of pain, fatigue and fear of harming themselves. Yet inactivity can worsen the symptoms. Health Canada encourages older adults with osteoarthritis to engage regularly in low impact exercise to strengthen supporting muscles and to keep joints flexible.
The Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City conducted a research study that found arthritis pain can be reduced by participating in weekly exercise programs. The weekly classes included Tai Chi, yoga, mat and chair pilates and dance fitness. Instructors involved in the study customized the exercises for individuals with osteoarthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions. The study, “showed that the weekly exercise programs significantly improved enjoyment of life and balance, and decreased pain and the severity and frequency of falls”.
Always check with your doctor to see what form of exercise is best for you.