Posts tagged exercise

Move little bits often – try modified exercises like walking jacks

The “3 fab facts for happy joints for people living with osteoarthritis” infographic from this issue of JointHealth™ insight provides effective, at-home techniques to help you move more, manage pain and feel better with osteoarthritis:

Every movement count and you can modify existing exercises according to your skills and abilities, and with the consult of an exercise specialist, your doctor or a physical therapist. The walking jacks is an alternative to the jumping jacks. This exercise is good for those who are unable to do a jumping jack due to physical limitations, injury, joint pain, or poor coordination.

Image from: Kate Delaware, Pinterest
Image from: Kate Delaware, Pinterest

Steps to do a walking jack:

1) Starting position: stand and hold your chest high, then engage your core for balance and strength

2) Step out wide to the side with your right foot, while swinging both arms out and around to extend straight up overhead. If you are unable to reach beyond your shoulders, raise your arms to shoulder height only.

3) Once the leading foot is stable, follow through by stepping the left leg in close and swinging the arms back down to your starting position.

4) Repeat the movement going the opposite direction.

Do you currently practice other modified exercises? Please share your exercise with us in the comments section below.

Exercising to reduce your risk of falling

Everyone is at risk for falls, no matter what your age is. Falls can happen at home, in the community, or while you are walking or doing other activities. The best activities to reduce falls include those that improve muscle strength in the legs and improve balance, posture, and stamina. Muscles tend to get weaker and balance becomes harder if we don’t continue to remain active.

Below is an excerpt from Vancouver Coastal Health’s “Prevent falls: Stay on your feet!” brochure on how to improve muscle strength and balance:

Check your leg strength:

  • Can you get out of a chair safely without using your arms?
  • Can you do it three times in a row?

Check your balance:

  • For safety, try this test while standing near the kitchen counter. Can you safely stand on one leg for 5-12 seconds without holding on to anything or anyone?

What you can do:

  • Get up from a chair three times in a row, without using your arms, whenever you can.
  • Go up and down stairs to keep your legs strong. Make sure you use the hand rail.
  • Walk as much as you can. If you become tired quickly or feel unsteady, a four-wheeled walker with a seat and a basket is a great idea. Have a professional help you buy the right one.
  • Bend and straighten your legs when you are watching TV. Add small weights to your ankles.
  • Mark out a walking path in your house if the weather is bad. Imagine you are walking to Hawaii.
  • Call your community centre, seniors centre, or church to find out what activity programs are offered.
  • Do a few exercises when you make yourself a cup of tea or get a glass of water.
  • See the Strength and Balance Exercises on the next page.
  • Make your activities fun.

Exercises

These simple exercises can help improve your strength and balance. Only do the exercises you feel safe and comfortable doing. It may be safer and easier to do just a couple of exercises at a time. If you have increased pain or a significant increase in shortness of breath, stop exercising immediately. Stand up straight. Hold onto the edge of the kitchen counter if you need to for safety. As this gets easier, try to hold on less.

Infographic showing exercises you can do at your desk

Here are some of the recommended physical activity programs, often found at your local community center:

  • Balance training, e.g., Tai Chi
  • Strength training – using weights or resistance
  • Walking
  • Water fitness
  • Dancing

Remember: Strength and balance can reduce your risk of falling by 50%.

Speak with your doctor or health care provider about any medical condition which may affect your ability to do these exercises.

Infographic showing exercises you can do at your desk

Please click here to read the full brochure or visit Vancouver Coastal Health Fall and Injury Prevention online at www.fallprevention.vch.ca.

High-intensity interval walk training associated with decreased disease activity in rheumatoid arthritis

A recent study has shown exciting new benefits associated with exercise for people living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

image of someone on a treadmill

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease with hallmark symptoms of inflammation and resulting pain. It is a disease process (like cancer or diabetes) where the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own healthy joints. It is a relatively common disease – approximately 300,000 or 1 in 100 Canadians get it – and is often devastating to a person’s body if not treated properly.

Researchers at Duke University in North Carolina found that 10 weeks of high-intensity interval walk training was associated with decreased disease activity and improved immune function for adults with RA. High-intensity interval walk training refers to a popular form of exercise that includes short bursts of fast-paced walking at maximum effort followed by less intense recovery periods.

The study included twelve physically inactive adults over the age of 55, with a confirmed diagnosis of RA. Participants completed a 10-week program consisting of 3x 30-minute sessions a week of supervised treadmill walking. This Included a 5-minute warm up and 5-minute cool down. Within the training session, participants walked at 80-90% of their maximum effort in intervals of 60 to 90 seconds. These high-intensity intervals were followed by recovery intervals at 50-60% maximum effort. Speed and interval times varied for each person based on a cardiorespitory fitness test, but none exceeded walking pace. 

Disease activity was assessed by a rheumatologist through a count of swollen and tender joints, perceived general health and blood tests to measure inflammation. Cardiovascular fitness and immune functions were assessed using a variety of clinical and laboratory tests, as well as standardized questionnaires. At the end of the 10 weeks, the following outcomes were observed:

  • RA disease activity reduced by 38%, with a significant decrease in swollen joints, erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and improved self-perceived health. An ESR blood test measures the rate at which red blood cells settle in the period of one hour, revealing inflammatory activity in the body. 
  • Improved immune functions suggesting a reduced infection risk and inflammatory potential 
  • Cardiorespitory fitness increased by 9%
  • Resting blood pressure and heart rate both reduced 

 There is a substantial amount of research on exercise and rheumatoid arthritis, but few studies have reported the actual lowering of disease activity scores. As stated by the researchers, this study suggests that,

“High intensity interval walking could be an efficient, tolerable, and highly effective intervention to augment disease activity and improve overall health in patients with RA.”

There are certain limitations to the study such as the small sample size and no control group, but the findings will hopefully encourage more research in the area. In addition, these findings add to a growing body of research on the benefits of exercise for people with arthritis. To learn more about the study, click here.


To learn more about physical activity and arthritis visit the following pages: