Benefits of Exercise
By Carol Kutik
Affecting more than 27 million adults, osteoarthritis (OA) is the most prevalent form of arthritis and the nation’s most common cause of disability. Joint pain, stiffness, aching and swelling in the joints – mainly those of the hands, knees and hips – can be serious and potentially life altering, especially when muscle weakness and poor physical functioning may be additional consequences of this initial arthritic pain. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) attributes 632,000 joint replacements and 11.1 million outpatient visits each year to OA. Those numbers may rise as more Baby Boomers reach retirement age and in response to the obesity epidemic, as the risk of OA, especially in the knee, can increase significantly for obese adults.
In 2010, CDC and the Arthritis Foundation released A National Public Health Agenda for Osteoarthritis, which is a public health plan to address the most common forms of arthritis. According to the Agenda, “Research has shown that physical activity decreases pain, improves function and reduces disability associated with all forms of arthritis. Additionally, regular physical activity can help people achieve or maintain a healthy weight, which is particularly important given that overweight and obesity are also known risk factors for OA.”
Let’s begin with the recommendations. The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, released by the Department of Health and Human Services, are as follows:
|Recommended Physical Activity for Adults
|Special Considerations for People with Chronic Conditions (including Osteoarthritis)
Two hours and 30 minutes a week of moderate intensity, or one hour and 15 minutes a week of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity. Aerobic activity should be performed in episodes of at least 10 minutes, preferably spread throughout the week.
Additional health benefits are provided by increasing to five hours a week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity, or two hours and 30 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity physical activity, or an equivalent combination of both.
Muscle-strengthening activities that involve all major muscle groups performed on two or more days per week.
Any activity is better than none. Adults with chronic health conditions obtain important health benefits from regular physical activity.
When adults with chronic conditions do activity according to their abilities, physical activity is safe.
Adults with chronic conditions should be under the care of healthcare providers. People with chronic conditions and symptoms should consult their healthcare providers about the types and amounts of activity appropriate for them.
The recommendations for older adults also include activities that promote balance at least three days per week
This is a great deal of information which can be daunting for someone who has not exercised in a long time, has limited mobility and/or is experiencing the pain that often accompanies arthritis. One hundred and fifty minutes may sound like a long time, but it is important to keep in mind that these guidelines may take time to reach. One of the best ways to sabotage any exercise program is to do too much too soon. Another is to participate in activities that your ability does not currently allow. Let’s get started.