Take four exercises


Fitness Take four exercises Its summer, so time to shake off the cobwebs and try to get active! We look at four forms of exercise that you can do either in groups or on your own that can benefit arthritis and osteoporosis Words: Louise Parfitt W hen you live with arthritis and osteoporosis, it can be difficult to think about exercising, even if you know it may help you manage your symptoms. Many people often think quite logically that exercising and stressing a joint with arthritis would make it worse, says Dr Deborah Lee from Dr Fox Online Pharmacy. But if you dont use your joints, they stiffen up and your pain is likely to increase. The key point is that if you can start getting more mobile, your e c i v d a k e e S e r symptoms will improve. o f e b P G r u o e s i c r from y e Weve checked out four forms of low-impact exercise to help you get x e w e n a , g s s n i a l n c n i a n i started. b eg o j u o y f I r . o e t c m u m r t a r s g n i o r e p h t t e l . o s t n r o i e t b i d n o c 1. Walking h remem t l a e h t a y h n a w f f o o l w u o f n d k n Walking is good all-round exercise, with both physical and mental health i m e b p s o y t a s : w l u o y g n And a i l benefits. It is particularly useful for people with osteoporosis as its weight l e t s i y s d m o o b t r p u m yo y s r bearing and can be low impact, which is important in this condition. A study o n i a p r u yo f i . e s r o w found people with arthritis who walked for 40 minutes three times per week get had less pain and more improvements in mood than those who didnt, says Dr Lee. Comfortable shoes are recommended, and you could also consider taking a walking stick. Start with five minutes walking around your garden, and build up from there. Ideally you want to aim for 30 minutes a day, but this doesnt have to be done all in one go. If you enjoy it and are able to go further, look out for local walking groups in your area or try the Ramblers: ramblers.org.uk You get a real uplift from it 2. Swimming Exercising in water can be a game changer for people with joint pain because the water supports your body weight, allowing you to exercise more easily. However, its important to find the most comfortable stroke for you. Swimming is ideal for those with joint pain because it boosts blood circulation and works multiple joints at once, says Chloe Twist, personal trainer at OriGym Centre of Excellence (origympersonaltrainercourses.co.uk). Regular swimming promotes added strength and maintenance of joint structure, and enables those with limited flexibility and mobility to exercise safely. Contact your local pool to see if it has adults-only swim sessions or aqua-aerobics classes. 3. Yoga Yoga is a holistic practice that includes controlled physical postures, breathing exercises and meditation. Many postures are weight bearing, so its a great way to help osteoporosis, and it can help improve balance, which reduces the risk of falls. But there are also moves you can do from a chair, or that can be adapted to your needs. Numerous studies have found that bone density in those with osteoporosis increases with regular yoga practice, says yoga teacher Ruth Stone. Yoga can also be incredibly successful in reducing joint pain and maintaining joint flexibility. Its also relaxing. Those who live with pain tend to tense their muscles more and sleep less well, but yoga can help. There may be local classes in your area (see British Wheel of Yoga: bwy.org.uk), or you can try online classes. You may be able to find a specialist teacher but, if not, all teachers should be able to offer adaptations so you can exercise safely. Versus Arthritis has also started offering online seated yoga for people with arthritis (see box, below). 4. Tai chi Similar to yoga, tai chi is form of slow, considered exercise that improves strength, flexibility and mobility through gentle stretching, and also includes breathing and meditation exercises that can help people to manage pain. Tai chi can also help with balance. It is good for slowing the loss of bone density through its weightbearing movements, says Twist. There may be local tai chi classes in your area or online: try searching taichiforhealthinstitute.org (look out for instructors who are certified to teach tai chi for arthritis and osteoporosis). Some local Versus Arthritis groups run tai chi sessions: search versusarthritis.org/in-your-area You get a real uplift from it After Sarah Bates was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis in her mid 30s, she turned to yoga. It is a way of managing pain, she says. This was brought home during the first lockdown, when she stopped practising as often. I noticed very rapidly that the pain had started to come back. It demonstrated how important yoga is in my life. Sarah has been teaching yoga for eight years (see themotorcyclingyogi.co.uk), including running seated classes for people with limited mobility. This year, she started working with Versus Arthritis to bring the benefits of chair yoga to people. The online sessions consist of 30 minutes of yoga which include seated and standing postures followed by an optional 30 minutes to have a chat. Sarah loves it. I make it as accessible as possible to inspire people to move their body, irrespective of how much they can do on that particular day, because the fact that we are all there together is a great thing, she says. You get a real uplift from it. For more information on the sessions, contact Mandy Jackson at m.jackson@ versusarthritis.org Those who live with pain tend to tense their muscles more and sleep less well, but yoga can help