Today at the ACR annual meeting, attendees at a symposium on the benefits of exercise heard presenters encourage arthritis patients to include physical activity into their treatment, something that was unheard of at a meeting like this 20 years ago.
Dr. Vilet Vlieland, Professor in the Department of Orthopaedics, Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy at Leiden University Medical Centre in the Netherlands, said it’s important for an experienced therapist to implement tailor-made exercise programs for arthritis patients, consisting of routine and planned activities, monitored by regular assessments.
She argued that exercise can be even more beneficial for arthritis patients than for the general public because it can help improve physical functioning, relieve the pain and stiffness that comes with arthritis, and limit comorbid conditions, such as heart and stroke conditions. Dr. Vlieland said that proper exercise programs must be carefully designed with a combination of aerobic, strength, flexibility, and neuro-motor exercise such as balance exercises. The program should generally be performed at least two to five days a week, with aerobic exercises lasting about 20 to 30 minutes and strengthening of large muscle groups, flexibility and joint mobility exercise based upon number of repetitions.
Some arthritis types, such as ankylosing spondylitis, may actually call for daily flexibility and joint mobility exercises. Dr. Vlieland said therapists must also be aware of potential barriers for arthritis patients, such as adding more time into managing a disease that can already require burdensome visits to various health professionals.
Are you thinking about starting an exercise program? We hope so! A good place to start is a new app for your smartphone that ACE has helped develop called Walk10Blocks. Click here to find out more: www.walk10blocks.ca.