Can Osteoarthritis Be Prevented With Exercise?
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition that causes the cartilage in joints to break down and wear away, leading to painful bone-on-bone contact. Once believed to be an inevitable outcome of a long and active life, osteoarthritis is now known to be a consequence of a multiple factors. For instance, excess body weight, smoking, poor nutrition and high blood glucose levels can all accelerate the degenerative process that occurs in joints.
While osteoarthritis cannot be completely prevented, it is possible to reduce the risk by adopting healthy lifestyle habits – one of which is exercising regularly. Some people may find this surprising, mainly because exercise has been shown to increase the risk of osteoarthritis in certain instances. Specifically, individuals who frequently participate in high-impact activities, such as running for several hours a week, are believed to be more prone to developing osteoarthritis. On the other hand, it’s important to note that individuals who have very low levels of activity often have early-onset joint degeneration as well.
What is the best way to prevent joint degeneration?
Based on these findings, many experts believe that a moderate level of physical activity is key to preventing osteoarthritis. Before you start a new workout regimen, however, it’s important to consult with a physician who can ensure that the activities you have in mind are appropriate for you (and suggest alternatives if they are not). Here are some activities to consider:
- Range-of-motion exercises, such as arm raises and shoulder rolls, to relieve joint stiffness and increase your flexibility
- Strengthening exercises, such as weight training, to strengthen the muscles that support and protect your joints
- Low-impact aerobic exercises, such as walking, swimming and cycling, to control your body weight and lessen the burden on your damaged joints
- Body awareness exercises, such as gentle yoga poses and tai chi, to help prevent falls – and further joint damage – by improving your posture, balance and coordination
If you’re interested in learning more about osteoarthritis prevention or treatment, contact Advanced Orthopaedics of Houston, TX.
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