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Is Exercise the “Oil” Older, Worn Joints Need?

For those suffering from arthritis or other muscle and joint pain and stiffness, exercise might be the last thing on their minds. But new research suggests exercise might be just what the doctor ordered. Researchers at the Hospital for Special Surgery report regular exercise can lessen pain, reduce stiffness and diminish fatigue associated with arthritis and other joint problems.

Researchers studied more than 200 adults who participated in various exercise programs between 2011 and 2014. Weekly exercise classes were hospital-based but were designed for people in the community. Classes included Pilates mat; therapeutic yoga; yoga-lates, which combines yoga and Pilates; t’ai chi; and dance.

Researchers studied the impact of the exercise classes on participants’ pain, stiffness, fatigue, balance, falls and physical activity.

“Often patients with musculoskeletal disease are more deconditioned than their disease-free counterparts. Strengthening the muscles around an arthritic joint has been shown to slow the progression of osteoarthritis and reduce pain,” Dr. Linda Russell, a rheumatologist, said in a December 16, 2014 press release by the Hospital for Special Surgery.

Participants answered survey questions before and after completing their exercise programs. Researchers found while 56 percent of the exercisers reported high levels of muscle/joint pain from their conditions when the program started, only 47 percent reported the same after completing the program. The study also found notable reductions in how much pain interfered with participants’ general activities, ability to walk, mood, sleep and enjoyment of life.

When they completed the exercise program, 83 percent of the adults reported a reduction in stiffness; 82 percent felt their balance improved; and 67 percent were less tired as a result of exercising in the program. Interestingly, people who took t’ai chi experienced the greatest reported reductions in muscle and joint pain.

Physical therapists are the exercise experts. For more about how a physical therapist can help custom design a safe, effective exercise program for people of any age and with any physical limitation, contact A Physical Therapist, Inc.

A Physical Therapist, Inc., is a one-on-one physical therapy clinic in Delray Beach, Fla., and Harrisburg, Penn. For patients in Palm Beach County, A Physical Therapist, Inc., is easily accessible from Boca Raton or Boynton Beach. For patients in Dauphin County, A Physical Therapist, Inc., is easily accessible from Hershey and Marysville.

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