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Arthritis? Exercise for less pain

Don't halt exercises just because you have aching knees and joints caused by arthritis.
People with arthritis who exercise regularly report less pain, says a new Mayo Clinic study. Regular, modest exercise improves joint stability and strengthens muscles, says the study. It also improves mood, sleep, energy levels and day-to-day functioning.
When a person avoids exercise, joints become less mobile and the surrounding muscles shrink, causing increased fatigue and pain.
A physical therapist or personal trainer can tailor exercise programmes to health conditions and fitness levels. The key is to choose safe, appropriate activities and to take it slowly at first.
A variety of activities can be safe and helpful for people with arthritis, including:
Range-of-motion and flexibility exercises: Activities such as yoga and tai chi increase joint mobility. Doing range-of-motion exercises in the evening can reduce joint stiffness the next morning.
Low-impact aerobics: Aerobic exercise improves overall fitness and endurance as well as muscle function and joint stability. Low-impact options include water aerobics, swimming, bicycling, walking or using equipment such as treadmills and elliptical trainers.
Strengthening: Strength training builds the muscles around the joints to provide better support. These exercises may be done with one's own body weight for resistance, with hand-held weights, resistance bands or weight machines.
Lifestyle: Many everyday activities -- gardening and housework -- provide the health benefits of moderate physical activities. These findings were published in the December issue of Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource.

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