Arthritic but wants to exercise

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Monday, March 3, 2014


DEAR Dr. Fritz,

Cheers! You can call me Zenith Z. I have rheumatoid arthritis. I just wanted to know if I would benefit from exercise. I do really want to move around. The problem is, I am concerned if this would not be good for me. But, if I can exercise, what are the proper movements that I can do?

Thanks for your help and good day!

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Zenith Z.

*****

Dear Zenith Z.,

Don't be afraid to exercise. This is one of the best things you can do for yourself, even if you are suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. As a matter of fact, you can reap the following benefits:

* You'll have better flexibility. Exercise loosens the stiffness in your joints, so you'll be more flexible.

* You'll have stronger muscles. Exercise strengthens your muscles and if you have strong muscles you'll have better support for your joints.

* You'll have stronger bones. Exercise increases your bone density, and that could mean you'll less likely to break your bones.

* You'll have healthier heart. People who have rheumatoid arthritis are more likely to get heart problems. Since exercise is good for anybody's heart, then, a dose of daily exercise will help heart disease at bay.

The following are the types of exercises which can help you most:

* Gentle flexibility exercises. Do this every day gently and don't stretch where you can feel some pains.

* Strengthening exercises. Use weights and resistance bands to make your muscles stronger. As I've said earlier, strong muscles can better support your joints.

Slowly increase the amount of resistance and do this every other day. You can also work out with a physical therapist or trainer.

* Aerobic exercise. But, choose the low impact type, which includes stair climbing, walking, dancing, and low-impact cardio machines, like the elliptical trainer.

Start by exercising a few minutes each day, and then slowly, add more time if you can. Do this at a moderate pace and aim later for about 30 to 60 minutes, at least four days in a week.

* Body awareness exercises. These include tai chi and yoga. Here you work on your posture, balance, coordination, and relaxation.

It is very important that you can stick to your program as you go along. To help you with that, don't aim for big goals. Instead, go for smaller ones and reward yourself if you meet them. To avoid boredom, make your exercise fun. Do it with a friend or in a group.

Well, I hope that helps. Good luck!

Dr. Fritz

(For your questions, you may send them to Dear Dr. Fritz, c/o Sun.Star Davao Publishing Inc., Ebro-Pelayo Building, Jacinto St., Davao City, (former Department of Foreign Affairs office), across Ateneo de Davao University and beside Holy Child School of Davao, or you e-mail them to dokfritz@yahoo.com. Sorry that we cannot answer all your questions. Thank you for your understanding!)

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on March 04, 2014.

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