As we grow older the aches and pains of aging begin to set in. For many this type of discomfort can develop into a much more serious condition. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a fourth of the population suffers from osteoarthritis, a condition that occurs over time as the protective cartilage on the ends of our bones wears down.
As one might imagine this painful process of deterioration often leaves those suffering from the disease feeling disheartened and depressed, especially as the physical activities they once enjoyed become too agonizing to endure. It is, however this very type of inactivity due to physical pain and depression that then leads to a worsening condition.
While there no cure to Osteoarthritis exists, according to the Mayo Clinic...
…staying active, maintaining a healthy weight and other treatments may slow progression of the disease and help improve pain and joint function.”
We know that those suffering from the condition often reject all forms of exercise without realizing that the physical activity they have abandoned is one of the only things that could help ease the progression of pain in the long run. Not only that, inactivity also leads to a higher risk of other health issues such as diabetes and heart disease.
A study spanning ten years that looked at 2,000 adults with arthritic knees found that less than 10 percent of participants met the national guidelines of 150 minutes per week of physical activity. Those that did, however saw improvement in their disability and were able to function much better.
The key, then, to keeping a higher quality of life is to find enjoyable substitutes for the types of activities that have become limited by arthritis. In other words, it’s all about adjusting to a new level of exercise. A runner may not be able to go for runs but they can still enjoy daily walks. A swimmer may not be able to swim long distances but they can enjoy wading or power walking through waist-deep water.
Study after study has confirmed that the do-nothing alternative leads to a quick and steady decline in health.
According to a recent article in The New York Times, researchers conducting a study of 1,168 participants ages 49-83 with knee arthritis who monitored their daily activity in regard to duration and intensity level found that,
…on average, participants spent two-thirds of their waking hours being sedentary. The less active they were in the course of the day (apart from any moderate or vigorous activity they did), the more slowly they walked and the less able they were to get up from a chair.”
The takeaway here is to keep moving. Depression can cause people to give up on their bodies when what they should be doing is adjusting to a new normal. Stay healthy by building physical activity into your everyday routine. It’s the only sure way to slow the effects of an otherwise debilitating disease.
Keep Moving Even if in New Ways to Stay a Step Ahead of Arthritis via The New York Times
Accelerometer-Monitored Sedentary Behavior and Observed Physical Function Loss via American Journal of Public Health
Osteoarthritis via Mayo Clinic