According to the Centers for Disease Control, an estimated 52.5 million U.S. adults have been diagnosed with arthritis. That’s approximately one in five adults, and there are many more sufferers who aren’t under a doctor’s care.
Arthritis is more common among men and women age 65 or older, but it can affect people of all ages. It includes more than 100 different diseases and conditions, including osteoarthritis (the most common), rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia, and gout. Arthritis sufferers not only have limited mobility but are more likely to have other chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity.
While the symptoms of arthritis – pain, aching, stiffness, and swollen joints – may make physical activity difficult, doctors say that regular, moderate activity is one of the best ways to ease the pain, increase your mobility, and overcome the challenges of arthritis.
Those who start slowly, increase exercise gradually, and are careful not to overdo it should feel better because of physical activity:
- Strengthens the muscles that surround your joints
- Increases blood flow to cartilage, allowing it to get the nutrients needed to stay healthy
- Can help keep you reduce stress and combat depression
- May help control other chronic conditions
Remember: If you haven’t been exercising, see your doctor before you start an exercise program. And, be sure to use caution – if you have severe arthritis, it may be best to work one-on-one with a certified teacher or trainer at first to ensure you don’t do anything to aggravate your joints or cause an injury.
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