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Published on July 16, 2012

Exercise to prevent arthritis and heart disease

Joint health and heart health exercises from Mercy Home Health.

bikesArthritis can turn everyday activities—like grocery shopping or even walking to the bathroom—into painful challenges. However, regular mild to moderate exercise, coupled with physical therapy if prescribed, can keep you active, reduce joint pain, restore flexibility and keep your heart healthy.

Exercise strengthens the muscles that support weight-bearing joints. This protects joints so they can work more efficiently and with less pain,” says Karen Martin-Anderson, Mercy Home Health registered nurse. “If you’re considering joint replacement, stronger muscles may relieve the pain enough that you can postpone surgery. If you do have the surgery, recovery is frequently faster when you’re in better condition.”

Regular exercise is also important to keep your heart healthy. The heart is a muscular organ and, like any muscle, it gets stronger the more it is used. Raising your heart rate during exercise means the heart doesn’t have to pump as hard the rest of the day. Exercise can also lower your blood pressure.

Recommended Exercises for Joint Health & Heart Health:

Aqua Therapy: Water supports the joints, yet provides plenty of resistance to build muscle strength. Swimming is also great exercise for your heart.

Riding a bike: With warm weather right around the corner, grab a helmet and go. Bike riding keeps the heart rate at a steady, even pace.

Yoga: Slow, steady movements help reduce the tenderness and swelling associated with arthritis.

Walking: It’s the simplest thing you can do to increase heart health while also protecting your joints. Before leaping into any activity, Martin-Anderson says step one is a medical evaluation. “If you’ve been inactive for a while, you may be referred for formal physical therapy to learn how to exercise safely and effectively before you take off on your own,” she says.

SMART MOVE To learn more about Mercy’s in-home rehabilitation therapy services and other programs related to joint and heart health, visit mercyhomehealth.org or call 1.888.690.2551.

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