If you have been keeping pace with all of the articles I contribute, it should be quite evident that I enjoy and appreciate an active lifestyle, and I am grateful to my body for enabling me to do so. I recognize how constant physical exercise is truly healing on all levels of my being, from mental to spiritual to physical. I cannot imagine a day without it.
I do feel sorry, however, for those friends of mine who lament that they cannot enjoy fitness and exercise, as they feel they are limited by various physical ailments, namely joint problems, such as stiffness and pain. While I recognize that it can be painful to engage in physical activity when the joints are not cooperating, there is a part of me that simply wants to scream, “Don’t you realize that the very act of physical activity will improve your symptoms in many cases?”
Now, I will preface this by noting that I bear little tolerance towards excuses for not being active. That’s just me. I can be stubborn in that regard. I turned 47 over the weekend, and I have been exercising daily for 35 of those years. My nearly 106-year-old Grandma still exercises and attributes that to the success of her longevity (well, that and a diet of McDonald’s, but that is another subject for another day!). I don’t understand the mindset that does not allow for daily exercise. For me, that would be like not brushing my teeth every day! Gross!
When joint pain is caused by the breakdown of cartilage or the result of an autoimmune disease, many people simply choose to restrict their level of physical activity in an effort to keep matters from getting worse. However, research has shown that physical therapy, exercise, and changes in lifestyle all have great potential to help one stay active, reduce the joint pain, and, in some cases, inhibit the progression of the condition. Imagine that!
In fact, according to online sources at www.everydayhealth.com, a study published in the September 2008 issue of BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders indicated that patients with osteoarthritis of the knee who followed a self-management program that included exercise reported less pain in the short and medium term.