5 bodybuilding tips for people with arthritis

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Strength training is good for just about everyone. It is especially beneficial for people with arthritis. When done properly as part of a larger exercise program, strength training helps them support and protect the joints, not to mention pain, stiffness, and possibly swelling. Yet the idea of ​​starting a strength training program can be daunting for many people with arthritis.

If you have arthritis and want to make strength training a part of your health routine, these tips can get you started.

  1. Work with a certified physiatrist, physiotherapist, or personal trainer who has experience working with people with arthritis to design and tailor exercises that will work for you. Your goal should be to include strength training, flexibility activities that improve range of motion, and aerobic activities that prevent additional stress on the joints (such as water exercises or using elliptical machines).
  2. Schedule workouts for times of the day when you are least likely to suffer from inflammation and pain. Avoid exercising when stiffness is at its peak.
  3. Warm up before starting a weight training session. Walk for a few minutes, while moving slowly and bending your arms to different positions.
  4. If you have rheumatoid arthritis, balance your rest and exercise carefully. As a general rule, you should avoid weight training with actively inflamed joints, at least until the inflammation subsides. In some cases, aquatic exercises may be a better choice than strength training.
  5. Exercise in a comfortable range of motion. If any exercise or movement causes severe pain, stop doing it! Discuss your options with a trainer or physiotherapist.

For more advice on strength training, see Strength and Power Training for Seniors, a special report on health from Harvard Medical School.

Image: Ridofranz / Getty Images

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