May is National Arthritis Awareness Month. Given the fact that 54.4 million Americans have been diagnosed with this painful condition, it is timely to discuss suggestions for both prevention and management.
Many factors contribute to the onset of arthritis; yet, even if there is a hereditary component, there are several factors within our power that can protect our quality of life.
More than 100 conditions are classified as arthritis. Prevalence is higher among those physically inactive as well as those who are obese.
Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the most common types. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease and results in the deterioration of cartilage in the joints, leaving people with the painful experience of bone on bone. Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease and the most crippling form of arthritis.
In my work as a certified fitness professional, I have noted an increase in osteoarthritis in the last 10 years. I believe the typical American lifestyle, characterized by extended periods of sitting and a general lack of activity, is the No. 1 contributing factor. Ninety-five percent of Americans do not achieve the recommended 30 minutes of exercise on a daily basis.
The cumulative effect of a sedentary lifestyle is obesity, or the state of carrying excessive body fat. Guidelines for body fat are no higher than 31 percent for women and a maximum of 24 percent for men. Excess body fat puts excessive strain on the joints, which causes deterioration of the cartilage, thereby removing the critical shock-absorbing components that keep us mobile and pain-free.
Exercise plays an important role in both the prevention and management of arthritis. After obtaining clearance from your physician, engage in low-impact exercise, such as walking, cycling and rowing. Water exercise is also an excellent choice, and joining an aquatic class is a great way to sustain motivation and provide support, even during times of inflammation when getting out the door may be a challenge.
In addition to cardiovascular exercise three to five times per week, follow a strength-training program at least two times per week. Make sure to include in every workout some time for flexibility training. Joints should be put through a full range of motion on a daily basis to maintain optimal function.
When it comes to avoiding joint stiffness, discomfort and pain, activity is truly the critical key to success! Create a habit. A body in motion tends to stay in motion. QCBN
By Lisa Fry
Lisa Fry is the Health & Fitness Director for Touchmark at The Ranch. Her responsibilities include overseeing the Touchmark Health & Fitness Club. Membership is open to anyone 50 years and greater. To reach Lisa or for more information, call 928-708-3133.