There's no doubt that appropriate rest help joint inflammation. However, it's also an established fact that excessive rest is deleterious to health. Research shows that even in healthy young men 3 weeks of lying prone in bed can reduce their fitness as much as 30 years of normal aging. In just 1 week of immobilization, a muscle can lose some 30% of its bulk!
The negative effects of immobility on the musculoskeletal system include these:
- Wasting (atrophy) of the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones
- Weakness of muscles, ligaments, tendons, and bones
- The development of contractures (a shortening or shrinkage of the muscle, tendons, ligaments, and joint capsules that reduces the range of joint's motion and impairs mobility)
- Degeneration of joint cartilage
- Greater risk of breaking a bone due to the loss of bones mass, a condition called osteoporosis
Fortunately, studies show that arthritis patients can safely improve their strength, and thereby enhance their functional capacity, if they undertake an appropriate muscle strengthening program. A reasonable amount of strength is a prerequisite for performing many everyday activities. In other words, strength translate into good functional capacity and lessened disability. That's one of the reason why it's important.
Why exercise aerobically? Aerobic exercise are endurance activities that din't require speed or strength but do require demands on your cardiovascular system. There are many forms of aerobic exercise. Brisk walking, running, swimming, dancing, and cycling are perhaps the most popular, but there are others too. One objective of this type of exercise is to increase the maximum amount of oxygen that your body can process for energy production during physical activity. This enable you to perform more exercise with less fatigue.
There have been several major European and American aerobic exercise studies involving hundreds of people with osteo- and rheumatoid arthritis. Some of the studies lasted as long as 8 years. Dr. Robert W. Ike and his colleagues from the University of Michigan Medical Center reviewed the findings and came to these conclusions about typical osteo- and rheumatoid arthritis patient:
- Their poor endurance and aerobic fitness levels are due as much to inactivity as to the disease. For many patients, traditional recommendations to reduce physical activity are inappropriate and may, in fact, contribute to their feelings of weakness and fatigue, as well as their impaired functional capacity.
- Some patients can perform aerobic exercise without harming their joints.
- These patients are often capable of substantially improving their aerobic fitness by participating in a supervised exercise program.
- Those who do participate in an aerobic exercise training program report improvements in many areas of functional capacity.