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Improve your arthritis: Get moving!

M.D. Special to AmNews | , Susan Beane | 5/30/2013, 5:02 p.m.
Arthritis is the nation's leading cause of disability and touches one in every five adults...
Improve your arthritis: Get moving!

Arthritis is the nation's leading cause of disability and touches one in every five adults and 300,000 children. Six million people in the tristate area have arthritis alone. If you or someone you love has arthritis, the best advice I can give you is to be physically active.

Arthritis can affect people of all ages, and there are more than 100 different types of arthritis: osteoarthritis (arthritis of the bones), rheumatoid arthritis (inflammation of the lining of the joints), lupus (a disease where the immune system attacks its tissues) and many others. Arthritis symptoms can include pain, stiffness, occasional swelling, redness and difficulty moving joints.

For starters, the more you move your body and do moderate physical activity, the more you can help lessen pain and stiffness in joints and improve your ability to do daily activities. It's like keeping a piece of machinery oiled so it functions well--continuing to move your joints often will help your arthritis. It's a myth to think that physical activity makes arthritis worse.

Before starting any physical activity program, check with your doctor to make sure you are on the right track. Physical activity can include stretching your arms and legs, strength-building exercises, cardiovascular exercises and balance movements. Remember, it's perfectly normal to have some pain or soreness when you begin an exercise program. Don't let that prevent you from moving, but excess pain or fatigue would call for you to check in with your doctor. Don't overdo it!

To help do something about this serious and painful disease, I'm excited to announce that my organization is partnering with the Arthritis Foundation. The Arthritis Foundation is dedicated to raising awareness and reducing the impact of arthritis and funds research that has restored mobility in patients for more than 60 years. This research comes from surveys from the many programs and workshops they support. Healthfirst and the Arthritis Foundation are proud to sponsor a series of arthritis workshops that will help the members of our community take control of their arthritis and manage their pain. We have coupled these workshops with a walking program, which meets for six weeks for 30-minute walks around local parks. Our goal is to help get people moving in the right direction to help them manage their arthritis so they can lead richer, more active lives.

Dr. Beane is vice president and medical director at Healthfirst. For more tips on leading a healthier lifestyle, visit the Healthfirst Healthy Living online at www.hfhealthyliving.com.