Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Get Moving!

We need to get moving.

If someone offered you a remedy for your arthritis– something that would reduce pain and swelling, strengthen your bones and the muscles surrounding your joints, and would reduce fatigue, would you take it? Incidentally, it would also keep heart disease and depression at bay. It would even help you lose weight. Did I mention that it’s completely natural, and there are no negative side effects? And – bonus - it’s free! Would you take it? Okay – I might be looking behind the proponent of this remedy for the hidden medicine man decked out in tribal garb, too. But if there was a spark of truth in there, you bet I’d try it.

Here’s the good news: it does exist. It’s called physical activity. And study after study has proven it works. It’s worked for me.

In a summary report of the U.S. Center for Disease Control, the Surgeon General found that, for people with arthritis, “Regular physical activity can help control joint swelling and pain.”

What’s more, the Arthritis Foundation refers to physical activity as “Arthritis Pain Reliever”. The Foundation offers programs in exercise, aquatics, tai chi, and walking. These programs have proven to have a positive impact on thousands of people affected by arthritis by improving flexibility, range of motion, and muscle strength.

Perhaps most compelling is a study by Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center, written by Susan Bartlett, Ph.D. (see Dr. Bartlett’s findings are in agreement with those of the CDC and Arthritis Foundation, but explain in greater depth how exercise affects the body.

According to Dr. Bartlett’s article, “Regular activity replenishes lubrication to the cartilage of the joint and reduces stiffness and pain.” She also discusses the reduction of anxiety and stress in patients that exercise over sedentary patients, and indicates that preliminary studies prove moderate-intensity lifestyle exercise (like walking) are as effective as rigorous activity in improving mood.

I promise you, I have tried this, and it works. As always, check with your doctor first (as did I) – and then lace up your sneakers and get moving! You (and that medicine man over there) won’t regret it.

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