Versus Arthritis share their expertise and insights with Lifestyle Health Hub
One in six of us in the UK are living with pain caused by arthritis. This long-term condition can be overwhelming, especially at the time of diagnosis. Experiencing chronic daily pain can be a constant reminder of how much life has changed.
For someone who has arthritis, a life without pain may be difficult to imagine, but it’s also a subject clinicians and therapists continually explore. For years, we’ve known exercise is essential in maintaining good general health. This isn’t any less true for people with arthritis.
Some might argue that, for a condition like arthritis, characterised by joint pain, inflammation and fatigue, exercise would just make it worse. The reality is, exercise can be incredibly effective as a natural form of pain relief and can help build core body strength that alleviates physical strain on our joints.
Every little helps to keep us healthier
Studies indicate 75% of chronic pain is musculoskeletal. Regular physical activity boosts our sense of general wellbeing; especially maintaining good mental health. While arthritis may make movement difficult, clinical experts recommend 30 minutes of aerobic exercise five times a week can make a difference.
Stretching at home or walking a little further than usual can gradually have a positive impact on joints and muscles. Exercise can be this simple. Varying everyday routines and enjoying a healthy diet with plenty of fresh vegetables (broccoli is known to be particularly beneficial) can also be effective in managing symptoms to live better with arthritis.
My own secret medicine: Jemma’s story
Fourteen years ago, Jemma was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, an inflammatory form of arthritis that affects the spine. Having been sporty all her life, her diagnosis was a shock that made the pain and fatigue of arthritis hard for her to adjust to. After a few years of living in pain, Jemma discovered what she now calls ‘her own secret medicine’ – yoga.
“There are so many different types of yoga; I can explore a style that suits my physical capacity for that specific day. It means I still get to exercise in some way even if I’m feeling fatigued. It reduces my frustration and negativity.”
Jemma has also found exercise beneficial for her mental wellbeing, saying, “It offers perspective, control of my thoughts and relaxation of my mind and body.” A true believer in the links between exercise and living better, she is training to be a yoga instructor. Jemma hopes this next stage of her journey will also help other people with arthritis.
Determined people like Jemma show it’s never too late to start getting fit and staying fit. Millions of people across the UK live fuller lives by staying active. We always recommend you speak with your healthcare provider before beginning any exercise programme. If arthritis has had an impact in your life, you could find regular, gentle exercise is a natural way to manage pain.
Visit Versus Arthritis to find out more. Versus Arthritis offers guidance on a range of exercises aimed at people with arthritis https://www.versusarthritis.org/about-arthritis/managing-symptoms/exercise/exercises-to-manage-pain/