SALEM – In recognition of National Arthritis Awareness Month in May, Salem Regional Medical Center (SRMC) reminds people that an active lifestyle is one of the best ways to maintain healthy bones and joints.

“Regular physical activity strengthens the muscles, ligaments and tendons surrounding the joints and can reduce wear and tear on the cartilage between the bones,” said Brian Rafferty, PT, SRMC’s Director of Rehabilitation Services. “For people with arthritis, exercise may also help ease symptoms like joint pain, stiffness and fatigue to improve daily functioning.”

According to Rafferty, an exercise program to support joint health may include a combination of activities designed to improve a person’s flexibility, strength, mobility and balance.

Exercises for Healthy Joints

– Stretching Exercises: Movements such as raising your arms over your head or rolling your shoulders forward and backward can relieve stiffness and increase range of motion in your back and shoulders.

– Strengthening Exercises: A weight-training program using hand weights or resistance bands can help you maintain or increase your muscle strength to support and protect your joints.

– Aerobic Exercise: This type of workout increases your breathing and heart rate and can improve your overall fitness. Choose low-impact activities that don’t put a lot of stress on the joints, such as brisk walking, cycling, swimming or water aerobics.

– Balance Exercises: Exercises like walking backwards or standing on one foot may improve balance for those who are at risk of falling or have trouble walking.

“It’s important to first talk to your doctor or physical therapist before starting a new exercise routine,” Rafferty advised. “He or she can recommend what types of activities are best for you.” Salem Regional Medical Center’s Rehabilitation Services Department offers physical, occupational, aquatic and inpatient speech therapy programs to help patients improve their function, independence and quality of life following an illness, injury or surgery. For information call 330-332-7297.

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