Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis. It is a degenerative disease in which the cartilage within a joint breaks down, causing changes in the surrounding bone. Common symptoms of OA include pain, stiffness, and reduced range of motion. While any joint can be affected, OA is most commonly seen in the hands, knees, and hips. According to the CDC, over 32.5 million adults in the United States are affected by OA.
Exercise Reduces Symptoms of Osteoarthritis
While some may believe that reduced usage of the affected joint will lead to improvement of symptoms, it appears the opposite is true. Studies have found that regular physical activity can actually benefit patients with osteoarthritis and lead to reduced symptoms. Being physically active can improve the quality of life for those with arthritis by reducing pain and improving function.
There are multiple types of exercise that may benefit people with osteoarthritis. According to the CDC, joint-friendly exercises are best. Joint-friendly exercises are low-impact and put less stress on the body, thereby reducing the risk of injury. Some joint-friendly exercises include biking, swimming, and walking.
Benefits of Walking for those with Osteoarthritis
Walking can be a great way to stay physically active. It is easy on the joints and has a number of health benefits that can lead to healthier, less painful joints. Walking can help you lose or maintain weight, thereby causing less stress on the joints. It can also lead to increased muscle mass, which shifts the pressure and weight from your joints to your muscles. In addition, it increases joint fluid circulation which is beneficial to maintaining healthy joint cartilage.
The benefits of physical activity do not stop there! Walking can improve one’s circulation, sleep, and mood, among many other benefits. That being said, every individual is different and those with osteoarthritis should consult their doctor before jumping into a new exercise routine. The CDC has great information to help people learn to safely exercise. More information can be found here