Movement: Good medicine for joints

Exercise may help prevent and treat Osteoarthritis

A body in motion tends to stay in motion. That’s a lesson you might have learned in physics class, and it’s true for human biology as well. It’s certainly a statement worth heeding when it comes to osteoarthritis (OA).

You might think OA is inevitable as you grow older. But it’s not. Light or moderate activity is one way you can lower your risk for this degenerative condition.

Joints contain fluid that lubricates them and makes it easier for them to move. Exercise increases joint fluidity the same way keeping the right amount of oil in your car helps the engine run smoothly.

Exercise has also been shown to:

  • Strengthen the muscles that support your joints
  • Keep you flexible
  • Help control your weight, which is important because excess weight is a risk factor for OA.

Even if you develop OA, exercise can help reduce your pain and increase range of motion. The challenge is fighting the urge to avoid activity. Some people feel activity will make their arthritis worse, but you actually want to move a little bit each day, because it’s going to help.

I don’t mind waiting 5 minutes or so for Dr. Salada on occasion, because I never feel rushed when she is with me.

Patient of Dr. Salada

Of course, you must carefully choose how you’ll move. Long-term, repetitive-motion exercises, such as running and tennis, can be hard on your joints.

Better options include walking, stretching, range-of-motion exercises such as tai chi and yoga, and water exercise. These are simple activities that can make a difference in your quality of life.