Exercise helps people with arthritis experience less pain, more energy, an improved night’s sleep and better day-to-day function. That’s according to Shoreline physical therapist Bruk Ballenger, who says that without appropriate exercise, many aging arthritis suffers can begin to lose function, independence and quality of life.

“As National Arthritis Awareness Month approaches in May, it’s an ideal time to remind older adults that exercise is one-way arthritis sufferers can take control of their lives,” said Ballenger, owner, of Prevail Physical Therapy in Shoreline. “Unfortunately, people with arthritis often choose to avoid exercise due to pain or the fear of injury, but without exercise, their conditions will only get worse, increasing their reliance on less natural options such as medication. The key is to learn the most suitable exercises for an individual and their unique joint issues.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that around 50 million adults in the U.S. suffer from arthritis. Exercise, confirms the CDC, is “one of the best ways to combat the onset of arthritis as well as to control pain and improve function.”

The physical therapists and staff at Prevail Physical Therapy work with arthritis sufferers looking to take control of the disease, offering functional evaluations, rehabilitation services, and the development of individualized wellness programs. Exercise is even more important for those who have had, or are considering joint replacements, but they encourage a Physical Therapy consultation before committing to a surgical solution.

According to Ballenger as well as the Mayo Clinic, a physical therapist or personal trainer can work with an individual to tailor programs that specifically address fitness levels and health conditions, such as arthritis. Exercises and activities considered safe for an arthritis sufferer includes:

  • Range of Motion/Flexibility Exercises: Stretching and activities such as yoga and tai chi.
  • Low-Impact Aerobics: Walking, swimming, cycling and the use of special equipment such as treadmills and elliptical trainers.
  • Strength Training: Using hand-weights, resistance bands, weight machines and even one’s own body weight to provide better joint support.
  • Lifestyle Exercises: Daily activities such as housework, gardening and going for a walk.

Ballenger says the best way to get started in an exercise program is to first consult a physical therapist to learn what type of exercise program is right for you. Ballenger’s physical therapy team at Prevail Physical Therapy does bases their individualized exercise programs on a thorough exam, biomechanical analysis, review of imaging, and strategies to optimize function (AlterG anti-gravity treadmill, Video Analysis, Pedobarography, etc). They are also leaders in rehab for regenerative medicine treatments such as PRP and Stem Cell therapy, and are experienced in using bracing, taping and custom orthotics to improve function in people with arthritits. Contact Prevail PT to learn more about developing an individualized program for you.