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Q I've suffered from arthritis for years. I've heard that exercising can help relieve some of my pain, but I'm not sure how to get started. Sometimes it hurts just to move and I'm afraid that exercising will be painful. Do you have any recommendations?

A While it may seem contradictory to exercise when you're in pain, physical activity often can be an effective treatment for arthritis, particularly osteoarthritis. Exercising can help reduce joint pain and stiffness, increase flexibility, and build muscle around the joints resulting in greater joint stability and less stress on the joint.

My first recommendation is to talk to your doctor about what type of exercise is appropriate for you. It's OK to start slow. You might want to start with some simple stretching exercises to improve your range of motion and then work your way up to taking short walks around the block. Taking your pain medication prior to exercising is a good way to increase the duration of your workout.

Water exercises are another good option for people with chronic joint pain. Exercising in the water can help reduce strain on your muscles and joints. Some community centers, like the YMCA, offer water aerobics classes. Or talk to your doctor about seeing a physical therapist who can help design a custom workout program for you that helps reduce the pain you feel while exercising.

Rosanne M. Leipzig, MD, PhD

Geriatric Medicine

Rosanne M. Leipzig, MD, PhD

Editor-in-Chief

Geriatric Medicine

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Title Annotation:ASKTHE EXPERTS
Author:M. Leipzig, Rosanne
Publication:Focus on Healthy Aging
Article Type:Interview
Date:Jun 1, 2008
Words:202
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