Exercise for Osteoarthritis

Exercise for Osteoarthritis

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Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common joint condition that causes pain, stiffness, and loss of movement. The most common type are knee osteoarthritis and hip osteoarthritis. It is estimated that OA affects more than 2.3 million Australians, or 1 in 5 people over the age of 45. Exercise for osteoarthritis is an important concept to help you manage your OA.

One of the most important tools to help manage osteoarthritis is exercise. Exercise for osteoarthritis can improve mobility and flexibility of affected joints. Arthritis Australia recommends that all Australian adults should aim to do at least 30 minutes of activity on most days of the week. However, it is essential to consult a physiotherapist or exercise physiologist before starting an exercise program, especially if you have not exercised for a while. They can suggest safe exercises and ensure that you are doing your exercises correctly to prevent injury.

Exercise options for Osteoarthritis

There are many exercise options that can be useful, and it is important that you choose and exercise type that you enjoy.

  1. Low-Impact Aerobic Exercise: Low-impact aerobic exercise that is gentle and places less stress on the joint, such as walking, cycling, or swimming, may be best for people with hip/knee OA.
  2. Strength Training: Strength training exercises are beneficial for improving muscle strength and joint stability. This can include exercises using resistance bands, free weights, or weight machines.
  3. Flexibility Exercise: Flexibility exercises, such as stretching, can help improve the range of motion in your joints.
  4. Water Exercise: Exercising in water can be particularly helpful for people with OA. It reduces the impact on the joints while providing resistance for strength training.
  5. Tai Chi and Yoga: Gentle exercises such as tai chi and yoga can help improve balance, flexibility, and strength, which are important for people with osteoarthritis.
  6. Cycling: Cycling is a low-impact exercise that can help improve joint mobility and strengthen the leg muscles.

Evidence suggests that a combination of strength, aerobic, and flexibility exercise is most likely to improve pain and physical function outcomes in adults with knee OA for the long term. Exercise is recommended as a core treatment for osteoarthritis in all clinical guidelines regardless of patient age, pain levels, or disease severity.

Sometimes there can be a poor response to exercise and your knee can become temporarily sore or stiff. Don’t be fearful, it just means that your exercise needs to be modified and not stopped all together. The adverse effects of exercise are generally infrequent, mild, and transient.

Getting Started

If you are new to exercise or have OA, it is important to talk to our team before starting a new exercise program. They can help you to create a safe and effective exercise plan that is tailored to your individual needs. Here are some other key tips to getting started with exercise for osteoarthritis;

  • Start slowly and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts.
  • Listen to your body and rest if you are in pain.
  • Find an activity that you enjoy and that you can stick with.
  • Set realistic goals and track your progress.

Challenges to Exercise with Osteoarthritis

While exercise is one of the main tools for management of Osteoarthritis pain, there are common barriers. Some of these barriers to exercise and strategies to overcome them include:

Adherence : Starting a new routine is often easy for a short while, but over time we change our habits., To make sure you can continue your exercise routine, try to set regular routines and stick to them. Join an exercise group for osteoarthritis or go walking with friends to keep it fun and socially engaging.

Safety: It can be hard to know where to start. Our Physiotherapy and Exercise Physiology team can help you work out your exercise tolerance and formulate a plan to start exercising safely doing something that you enjoy.

Hip and knee osteoarthritis may be a part of your life, but they don’t have to dictate it. Exercise is a readily available and effective tool that can help you regain control, reduce pain, and enhance your overall quality of life. Don’t let OA hold you back. Instead, let exercise be your pathway to a healthier, pain-free future. With the right guidance and commitment, you can exercise your way to a brighter and more active life, free from the limitations of OA.

Please reach out to our team if you would like some assistance in starting exercise for osteoarthritis.

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