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Osteoarthritis Health Center

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Exercise to Treat Arthritis

How Do I Begin Exercising?

Regardless of your condition, discuss exercise options with a doctor before beginning any new exercise program.

People with arthritis who are beginning a new exercise program should spend some time conditioning with a program that consists of only range-of-motion and strengthening exercises, depending on their physical condition and level of fitness. Endurance exercises should be added gradually, and only after you feel comfortable with your current fitness level.

As with any change in lifestyle, your body will need time to adapt to your new program. During the first few weeks, you may notice changes in the way your muscles feel, your sleep patterns, or energy levels. These changes are to be expected with increased activity. However, improper exercise levels or programs may be harmful, making symptoms of arthritis worse. Check with your doctor and adjust your program if you experience any of the following:

  • Unusual or persistent fatigue
  • Sharp or increased pain
  • Increased weakness
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Increased joint swelling
  • Continuing pain

Regardless of the exercise program you select, it's important to begin slowly and choose a program you enjoy so that you maintain it. Make exercise part of your daily routine so that it becomes a lifetime habit.

 

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David Zelman, MD on March 18, 2013
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