Arthritis affects millions of people around the world every year and is the number one source of pain and disability in older people. Health systems are preparing for an epidemic of arthritis cases as the baby boomer generation hovers around age 60. It is estimated that by 2020 twenty percent of the world population will be affected. Arthritis is about to get worse, much worse – and very soon.
If you are anywhere near middle age chances are you already have arthritis – a degenerative disorder in which the cartilage – the hard but slippery cushioning that lines the inside of your joints begin to break down. A joint is a place where two bones meet and healthy cartilage allows the bones to glide over each other. It also allows shock and impact from everyday movement and activities to be absorbed
People who are sedentary and have active lifestyles are more prone to developing arthritis. When muscle tone and bodily flexibility are lost, weak muscles increase the risk of everyday injuries and accidents due to their ability to properly protect and cushion joints. Strong muscles around weight bearing joints help support and distribute the pressure and load of body weight and movement.
Although it looks like an old person's disease, this silent devil starts young, often in the 30's, 20s or even younger. As there are no nerve endings in cartilage no pain is felt as it silently advances through the years and decades. But when it finally starts to cause pain, stiffness and loss of range of motion the damage has been done – the deterioration of cartilage is fairly advanced.
As the damage to the cartilage progresses, the pain encourages a person to become more and more sedentary setting off a vicious cycle of pain, inactivity, muscle weakness, more joint damage and more pain.
The bad news is that you can not grow new cartilage to replace the cartilage that has been damaged and worn away. The good news is that you can increase muscle strength and thereby rebuild a critical part of the joint's shock absorber system, supporting and protecting the joint even if it is weak and damaged from arthritis.
Research shows that exercise is one of the best treatments for arthritis. Exercise can improve mood and outlook, decrease pain, increase flexibility, improve the heart and blood flow, maintain weight, and promote general physical fitness. Exercise if done correctly, has few negative side effects unlike painkillers that are often prescribed to people with this condition. There is no pill or treatment to cure arthritis, the best hope is to adopt and learn the exercise skills necessary to manage this condition.
People that have this condition need to examine their attitude about exercise; They often believe that exercise is just for young people or for people that have been athletic all of their lives. Or they believe it will do them more harm than good.
This is definitely incorrect. A proper exercise program that includes 60% strength training exercise can not only help with this condition, but can actually beat it and can have a substantial effect on a person's physical, mental and emotional health.
The largest barrier to being physically active with arthritis is pain and stiffness. If you can push through this as when the correct exercise is performed pain is decreased, strength, flexibility and overall fitness in increased. By being active and moving your joints, nutrients are absorbed into the cartilage and surrounding tissues keeping them healthy and pain free.
Learn to see your health problem as a reason for exercise rather than as a barrier to exercise. See a fitness professional at your local gym or fitness center to give you the best start possible on the correct exercise program to prevent progress of arthritis and improve quality of life.