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Walking Helps Ease Arthritis

by Lori Sciame July 12th, 2011 | Exercise, Pain Management
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If you suffer from arthritis, and you do not currently exercise, there is good news for you. The Arthritis Foundation has developed a walking program specifically for arthritis sufferers, and it helps to relieve pain.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that, “An estimated 50 million U.S. adults (about 1 in 5) report doctor-diagnosed arthritis. As the U.S. population ages, these numbers are expected to increase sharply.”

In essence, there are a lot of people suffering from pain because of this debilitating disease. That is why this simple exercise program is important for many.

There is a problem. Many with arthritis fear exercise, because they think that it’s not possible for exercise to decrease pain. The CDC realizes there is this fear among those with arthritis. They state, “Research shows that pain or fear of pain, fear of worsening symptoms or damaging joints, and lack of information on how to exercise safely prevent people with arthritis from being physically active. Not being physically active is a risk factor for many other chronic diseases and interferes with management of these conditions. More than half of U.S. adults with diabetes or heart disease also have arthritis.”

So, you can see, being afraid to exercise actually keeps people from feeling better, and it can, in fact, make someone sicker. Trust me, (the CDC, and the Arthritis Foundation), walking truly does help. As stated on the Arthritis Foundation website, the program, Walk with Ease, can:

Reduce the pain and discomfort of arthritis
Increase balance, strength and walking pace
Build confidence in your ability to be physically active
Improve overall health

The Arthritis Foundation describes what happens when a person walks. “Walking increases the strength and flexibility of your muscles, increasing range of motion and shifting the pressure and your weight from joints to muscles – which are meant to handle weight – helping to lessen arthritis pain. Extra body weight also adds pressure to joints. With a walking program, you’re not only strengthening the muscles to better carry additional weight, you’re trimming away unwanted pounds and eliminating pressure – a two-for-one benefit.”

How can you get started? You can purchase the Walk with Ease guidebook from the Arthritis Foundation website. This handy guide gives you everything you need to begin, from planning a program specifically for you, to staying motivated once you begin. You can also talk to your doctor about beginning a walking program…it’s completely up to you.

On a personal note, I have witnessed many who suffer from arthritis feel better because of walking. Several years ago, I coordinated an 8 week walking program for senior citizens. The response was overwhelming. We had dozens of walkers, and when the program ended, they kept walking. The best part was those that were involved reported a more positive mood, as well as a decrease in pain. It’s true…many felt less pain!

Why not give walking a try? Just make sure to consult with your doctor before beginning any new exercise program.

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All health and medical information is provided for educational purposes and is not meant to replace the medical advice or treatment of your healthcare professional.