Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Exercising with knee arthritis

Anyone with knee arthritis knows how difficult it actually is to exercise and keep fit. You can't run, you can't walk long distances, you can't do a bicycle, you can't dance...Knees are utilized in almost all kind of aerobic activities...
Since I used to run a lot I found it even more difficult to stop exercising.. Still I managed to find ways to exercise properly and I want to share some of my tips :)

First let's start with the one exercise that probably all arthritic patients know about.. Swimming! Swimming is actually perfect both for elevating your heart beat and for conditioning your arthritic joints.. Unfortunately not everyone has a pool nearby. I go swimming only once a week due to my tight schedule..Which of course isn't enough..

Arm Bikes
If the only affected by arthritis joints are the knees( like in my case) you can buy an Arm Bike. Arm bikes are perfect for people with problematic knee joints and are a decent aerobic exercise.. I spend about 3-4 hours per week on my arm bike  while I watch television. Unfortunately not many stores sell arm bikes but you can find many cheap ones over Amazon

Chair Shadow - Boxing
I really don't know how else to call this :) It's like shadowboxing but instead of standing up you sit on a chair thus protecting your knees from the stress.. You look really stupid when doing this so you might want to try it alone while watching TV or something.. I used to do chair shadow boxing a lot before buying my arm bike. The key here is speed. You aren't using your legs so in order to get a good aerobic effect you have to be fast when punching the air. Make sure not to overextend your arms in order to protect the joints.. For an even better result you may try the following:
a) Squeeze your abdominal muscles while you shadowbox. More muscles working, equals more calories burned :)
b)After a month or two go and buy free weights of 1-3 pounds and use them while doing this exercise  

 Leg Exercises
There are many leg exercises you can do without stressing your knee joints. I also use 3 pounds weights to make them even harder..Don't forget that exercise equals bigger muscles which means less stress on the joints during daily activities (walking, standing up etc). Here's a great video, just search YouTube you will find hundreds of useful videos :)

Weight lifting 
You can also lift weights. When I do I use light weights and do a lot of repetitions. I am a woman so I don't want to build muscles I just want to burn calories! Don't forget to sit when weight lifting!

Abdominal workouts
The abdominal muscles are really small and ab exercises tend to burn very few calories.. Still something is better than nothing! Personally I do 300 crunches each and every day

Final thoughts
Knee arthritis surely limits the ways you can exercise but still there are many ways to keep fit and have a moderate to good aerobic experience. 

Please leave a comment if you have any other good ideas for exercising!

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