Regular exercise can bring long-term relief from pain caused by arthritis

Arthritis often causes severe joint pain, which can be debilitating. In some cases, the pain may even put off people from exercising. But a study has found that regular physical activity is key to naturally relieving the symptoms of arthritis.

Joint pain and quality of life

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that at least 15 million adults in America with arthritis suffer from severe joint pain. The symptom is categorized as pain at seven or higher on a scale of zero to 10.

Findings from the CDC show that even though physical activity can naturally reduce arthritis pain, almost 50 percent of adults with arthritis and severe joint pain are physically inactive. Both severe joint pain and physical inactivity are associated with poor mental and physical health outcomes.

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Suffering from joint pain can affect quality of life and a person’s ability to do normal tasks like holding a glass of water or carrying a bag of groceries. This means that exercising can be a challenge, which may put you off from working out altogether.

Natural pain relief through exercise

Over 50 million adults in America have arthritis, and the majority of patients with the condition use medication to manage joint pain. But according to researchers, exercising regularly, which can be difficult to do if you have arthritis, is just as effective as prescription drugs at reducing pain caused by arthritis.

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Randy Siy, a physical therapist and the outpatient program coordinator at Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital, explained that patients with arthritis will benefit from increasing their physical activity more gradually compared with someone without the condition.

Siy added that working with a physical therapist will help them develop a program that will specifically meet their level of function and address their health goals.

Additionally, exercise is an effective and inexpensive way of reducing pain. Unlike arthritis medication that causes negative side effects, such as heartburn, internal bleeding or high blood pressure, exercise can help delay or prevent disability and limitations without any adverse effects.

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Exercising may also help boost mental health, physical functioning and overall quality of life for those who suffer from painful arthritis.

Exercises for arthritis pain management

Detailed below are low-impact exercises that adults with arthritis can try.

Aerobic exercises

Aerobic exercises help promote overall fitness, along with your heart health, weight management, energy and stamina.

Cycling, walking and swimming are forms of cardiovascular exercise that help relieve arthritis pain. When starting a new fitness routine, gradually work your way up to 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise once a week. (: Here are 9 natural ways to treat arthritis in the comfort of your own home.)

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Strengthening exercises

Doing weight training and resistance exercises regularly will help strengthen the muscles that support and protect your joints.

For patients with arthritis, particularly those with severe joint pain, refrain from working out the same muscle groups two days in a row. Siy advises resting for one day in-between workouts. If the joints are still painful or swollen, rest for another day or two.

Those new to a strength-training program should try related exercises three times a week. Siy notes that if you simply want to maintain your strength despite your condition, you can exercise two days a week.

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Patients with knee arthritis should focus on increasing quadriceps strength. Try exercises like mini-squats and sit-to-stand from a chair.

Range-of-motion exercises

These exercises include movements like finger and wrist flexion/extension, leg kicks and marching, all of which help minimize stiffness.

Range-of-motion exercises also help increase your ability to move your joints through their full range of motion. Siy suggests doing these exercises daily.

For more tips on how to manage arthritis pain naturally, visit

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