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New Study: Just 45 Minutes of Exercise a Week can Improve Arthritis Symptoms in Older Adults

Exercise A Week Can Improve Arthritis SymptomsA chronic inflammatory disease, arthritis causes pain, stiffness, warmth, redness and swelling in joints. Untreated, it will cause joint damage, loss of mobility and function, and even serious medical conditions. The goal of arthritis treatment is to help patients minimize symptoms by bringing disease activity down to a low level. In established New York multispecialty healthcare centers, for instance, specialists from various fields work with patients to develop customized arthritis pain management plans. Treatment would generally include medications, chiropractic care, occupational or physical therapy, and exercise.

Many people with arthritis experience devastating joint pain and for them, engaging in physical activity is the last thing they want to do. But regular exercise can help maintain joint function and also relieves stiffness and reduces pain and fatigue. Medical News Today reports on a new study which says that just 45 minutes of exercise a week can improve the symptoms of arthritis in older adults.

According to current Active Older Adult exercise guidelines, “Older adults should aim to do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity physical activity a week, or an equivalent amount (75 minutes or 1 hour and 15 minutes) of vigorous-intensity activity.” However, the researchers from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, IL who reported their findings in the journal Arthritis Care & Research, say that only 1 in 10 older U.S. adults with knee osteoarthritis (OA) meet these exercise recommendations. The goal of their study was to determine whether older arthritis patients could benefit from lower levels of physical activity than the existing recommendations.

The team examined the data of 1,629 adults aged 49 and older who were participants in Osteoarthritis Initiative, a nationwide study aimed at finding prevention and treatment strategies for patients with knee OA. All participants had pain, aching, or stiffness in joints of the hips, knees, or feet. Individual physical activity and functioning levels were assessed through self-reported outcomes and movement-monitoring accelerometers at the study baseline and two years later. At the end of the two-year period, the team found that:

  • The physical functioning of about a third of participants had either improved or remained high
  • Those who engaged in regular exercise experienced higher physical function, but saw benefits even without meeting the recommendation of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week
  • Older adults who engaged in just 45 minutes of moderate-intensity activity, such as brisk walking, per week were 80 percent more likely to maintain or improve their physical functioning than those who exercised for under 45 minutes weekly
  • Older adults with arthritis needed to only perform a third of the recommended activity to remain functional

The study’s findings applied to both men and women with arthritis of the lower joints.

“Even a little activity is better than none. For those older people suffering from arthritis who are minimally active, a 45-minute minimum might feel more realistic” concluded the lead author.

It is ideal to initiate treatment for arthritis as early as possible as this will greatly limit joint damage. So if you have joint pain and stiffness and other symptoms such as fatigue, don’t delay getting treatment at a reliable multispecialty healthcare center. Here, an expert team will diagnose your condition and recommend a joint pain treatment plan with the right combination of rest, medications, exercise and other therapies to ease symptoms and help you lead a healthy and active life.

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