As winter approaches, so does cold and flu season. Because of that, this is the time of year we typically talk and think more about our immune systems.
However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic this year our immune system has already been top of mind, and now with the upcoming increased risk of our usual cold weather illnesses, it is even more important to do all we can to ensure our immune system is strong to protect us. What exactly is the immune system? How does it keep us from getting sick? Does exercise play a role in keeping us illness free?
The immune system is a complex group of cells, tissues and organs in our body that work to prevent or limit infection.
Without it, bacteria and viruses would constantly be making us sick. It can tell the difference between normal, healthy cells and unhealthy cells.
Cells may be unhealthy because of non-infectious agents like sunburn or cancer. Another red flag to the immune system are cells made abnormal by infectious microbes such as viruses and bacteria. Whatever the cause of the potential infection in our body, the immune system recognizes the problem by our molecular patterns.
When the immune system first sees these signals, it responds to address the problem. If an immune response cannot be activated when needed, or as much as is needed to completely fight the problem, we get sick or an infection occurs.
When an immune response doesn’t stop after the danger is gone, or if it responds when there isn’t danger, we may see an allergic reaction or auto-immune disease. There are also immune system disorders individuals can be born with and illnesses that can suppress the immune system.
The cells of the immune system (also called white blood cells) can occur in different parts of the body and are made in our bone marrow, which is a lymph organ.
The lymph, or lymphatic, system is a major part of the immune system. This system includes a network of lymph nodes, organs and vessels. The lymphatic vessels carry lymph (a clear fluid that contains tissue fluid, waste products and immune system cells) throughout our body.
Have you ever had an illness that resulted in swollen lymph nodes? That is because lymph nodes are clumps of white blood cells that trap viruses, bacteria and other invaders.
Luckily, most of us do have some control over the health of our immune system and subsequently our risk of getting sick.
Things That Weaken The Immune System
- Stress – According to the American Psychological Association, chronic stress can result in impaired communication between the immune system and the hypothalamus. This has been linked to numerous physical and mental health disorders, including immune disorders.
- Low Vitamin D – Vitamins D, C and zinc have been touted as the micronutrients that most support the immune system. There is some evidence that some micronutrient deficiencies change immune responses in animals. However, the impact of these immune system changes have not been assessed in humans. While there isn’t a scientifically proven direct link on these deficiencies negatively impacting the human immune system, there are other reasons to be sure you are not lacking in micronutrients. We do know that Vitamin D is important for healthy blood cells which is an important part of the immune system. A few good sources of Vitamin D: sunlight, eggs and fatty fish.
It is best to eat a varied diet with fruits and vegetables to get all of the vitamins and minerals you need, but if you suspect you aren’t getting enough from food, you may consider a multivitamin. If you suspect your diet might be lacking, your doctor can test you for any nutritional deficiencies.
- Certain Medications – Many medications can suppress the immune system. They include drugs to treat lupus, arthritis, IBS and corticosteroids. Talk with your doctor if you have any concerns and before you adjust an prescription medication.
- Smoking (including vaping) – Research suggests that nicotine can weaken your body’s ability to fight germs. And it’s not just the nicotine. Other chemicals in e-liquids seem to suppress your immune system, especially when you inhale them through vaping.
- Alcohol – Excess alcohol consumption weakens the immune system. Research cited in a publication by the National Institute of Health describes alcohol-related changes in the cells and molecules that shape the immune response.
Things That Strengthen The Immune System
- Sleep – Experts recommend between 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Our bodies repair themselves while we sleep, and we don’t function well in any area if we aren’t getting enough rest. One of the many processes that happen during our sleep is the release of certain proteins called cytokines that help the immune system. They are only produced while we are sleeping.
- Fruits and Vegetables – These foods contain the micronutrients that can help your body make more of the white blood cells you need to fight off infections. Fresh or frozen produce can pack a lot of zinc, beta-carotene, vitamins A,C, and E, along with other nutrients you need for a healthy body.
- Exercise - Exercise can be a powerful tool in keeping you safe from illness. Just like a healthy diet, exercise can contribute to general good health and therefore to a healthy immune system. It also helps in other specific ways:
A 2019 scientific review in the Journal of Sport and Health Science found that exercise can improve your immune response, lower illness risk and reduce inflammation.
The study looked at “acute exercise,” meaning that of moderate to vigorous intensity lasting less than an hour. Other research has shown that good circulation allows the cells of the immune system to move through the body freely and do their job efficiently and exercise improves circulation.
This study specifically looked at the number of immune cells present in a group of individuals before and after exercise. It found that after a 45 minute brisk walk, participants had more immune cells circulating in their body than prior to the exercise.
Consistent activity, at least 30 minutes most days of the week, will allow this response to add up. A 2011 study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, found that those who did aerobic exercise five or more days of the week lowered the number of upper respiratory tract infections (like the common cold) over a 12-week period by more than 40%.
In addition, exercise is linked to many of the factors that can impact the immune response. As mentioned above, stress can weaken the immune system and exercise is a great stress-busting tool.
Also, exercise has been shown to improve sleep, which is much needed to keep the immune response strong.
Keep in mind it is possible to over-exercise, especially if you are feeling run down or are sick. This is pretty difficult to do though, as you would have to be working out at a very high intensity for over 90 minutes at a time to qualify as extreme according to most studies.
What is considered high intensity will differ from individual to individual and depend on your current fitness routine. It is best to listen to your body and not to go over 70% of your max heart rate too often in your training to stay at the moderate level of exercise most studies have demonstrated improves immune system function.
If you are looking to increase your fitness level, do so incrementally, by 10% per week.
A personal trainer can help you develop a plan to safely increase your workouts or if you need to ensure you have the correct amount of rest time in your plan to avoid over-exercise.
Especially important to limit your risk of COVID-19 is to help prevent the virus from entering your system in the first place by washing your hands frequently (for at least 20 seconds with soap and water), wearing a mask when unable to social distance yourself from others and staying away from large groups.
Reducing your exposure to the virus is key. LivRite is committed to maintaining a clean and safe environment for members to keep up their fitness.
Social distancing is maintained in group classes as well as on the club floor and sanitizing spray is always available.
Please don’t hesitate to ask any staff member about our safety procedures if you have questions.
These are not comprehensive lists, but highlights of some of the ways we can help ourselves stay well. Following general healthy guidelines, a healthy diet and regular exercise, is the best step you can take toward keeping your immune system strong and healthy.
Every part of your body, including your immune system, works better when taken care of with a healthy lifestyle.
Topics: LivRite News
Happy New Year! Every start of the year feels like a new beginning ripe with possibility of change. Even if you don’t typically make resolutions, the New Year can be a fresh start for all of the things you want to achieve.
The most common resolutions have to do with health and fitness and most of them fail. So how can you successfully make healthier changes starting in this New Year?
1. Don’t make a resolution!
According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, only 46% of people who made New Year’s resolutions were successful. That means over half of the people who set a goal for the new year will fail! Other sources say that over 80% of people don’t achieve their resolutions and stop trying by mid-February.
It’s not all or nothing. New Year’s resolutions have a way of making you feel like you need to go full-force on a goal or you may as well not do it at all. A better way to set yourself up for success might be to think of it as a goal or a new habit you are going to work toward rather than a resolution. Something smaller and more specific than a typical resolution has better chances of being completed. Instead of resolving to “lose weight”, set a goal of losing 5 pounds in the next two months. Instead of resolving to “be healthier”, set a goal to eat at least one vegetable with every meal. Instead of resolving to “go to the gym everyday”, set a goal to go to a specific exercise class twice a week.
Taking on too much all at once can be daunting. It can be particularly difficult because establishing new behavioral patterns takes time. Focusing your efforts on one specific goal makes keeping a resolution much more achievable.
2. Why do you want to make this change?
The reason why you are making any change should be because YOU want the result. Making changes to our nutrition and exercising more (or at all) takes a lot of self-discipline and without your own intrinsic desire to eat more vegetables and take that group exercise class, you will probably go back to what you were doing last year as soon as a stressful situation hits. If you are trying to lose weight or get healthier because your doctor or spouse or someone else told you that you should, you most likely won’t keep up your new healthier habits.
Really think about why you want to make this change. Do you want to get off of medication for high blood pressure? Do you want to have more energy to be able to play with your kids? Make sure it is something meaningful to you. Whatever the reason, post it everywhere. Write it down. Remember it when your motivation lags. Because you will not always be motivated! Especially when everyone stops talking about resolutions in February and March and it is cold and dreary outside, you will probably have less motivation. This is when the people who made resolutions fail. But not you! You are making new habits and you know why. You must have the discipline to keep up with your healthier habits. The good news about self-discipline is that it can be made stronger like a muscle. The more things you achieve using your own willpower, the more self-discipline you will have in the future. It is easier to be disciplined when you know why you are making these new habits and are passionate about that reason.
I talked for years about wanting to be able to run. I had asthma when I was younger which made running difficult. I walked the mile in gym class. I was scared to push myself to try and run. It was hard and uncomfortable. I typically didn’t do things that didn’t come easily to me. I started to run a few times and then quit each time it got too difficult. I never got to the point where I could run a mile without walking. Then one year I decided I needed to prove to myself that I could follow through with something that seemed impossible to me. I had my why. I wanted to show myself I could achieve something that did not come easily. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. Once I had that why, I pushed through the discomfort (mentally and physically!) and after a few months was finally able to run a mile without stopping. Six months later I ran a 5k (3.1 miles). I had to remind myself of my why many times. There were so many days I didn’t want to go out there and run and walk. But I knew I wanted to show myself that I don’t give up when things get hard. I remembered my why and was disciplined to go out anyway even when I didn’t want to. I’m so glad I did.
3. Small Steps
Think about the things you'd like to achieve this year. Be realistic. If you think of a large goal, like running a marathon or losing 100 pounds, think of the milestones along the way. If you are not currently running regularly, a marathon is a huge task to undertake. A first goal could be to train for a 5k, the next step would be a 10k and then a few more steps until a marathon. Breaking down a large goal this way not only better prepares you, it gives you wins along the journey that should be celebrated and will keep you motivated.
If you have weight to lose, break it down into manageable goals and keep them realistic. Everyone is different, but in general, a good rule of thumb is to lose one pound a week. Don’t set yourself up for failure with an unrealistic goal. For example, if you want to lose 20 pounds in a month, you may not achieve that goal and then will be frustrated and may not continue with your weight loss journey. That’s a lofty target. Start with a goal of losing five pounds a month and be proud each time you reach that monthly objective. Before you know it, 20 pounds will be lost.
Research shows goals are reached more often if the progress is measured in some way. Track your progress on a calendar or in an app. MyFitnessPal is a great app to track your food intake and weight.
Be sure to take time to review your progress at certain points. If you have a monthly goal, check your progress weekly to see where you are and if any changes need to be made. The more frequent the check in the better.
5. Know Yourself
Everyone is unique so the steps we each take to reach our own goals can be very different. Don’t force yourself to do something a certain way because it worked for someone else. If your friend lost 10 pounds by taking a Zumba class twice a week but you hate dancing, don’t make yourself go to Zumba. If you hate it, you most likely won’t stick with it. Find a workout you do enjoy. It may take some trial and error but taking the time to nail down what you don’t absolutely hate doing will help you keep more exercise in your life.
Are you a person that can have just a little bite of a chocolate cake or do you eat the whole giant piece just because it is in the same room as you? Typically people fall into one camp or the other, either you can’t have the food anywhere around you or you will overindulge or you have to have just a little bit once and awhile or you will go nuts wanting it. Know yourself so if you are hoping to lose weight you know if you need to clear your house of all the junk food or you need to keep a little bit of dark chocolate around because you will eat too much if you feel like you are being denied.
Keep your goals for the New Year manageable, measurable and tailored just for you. Change is hard. A healthier lifestyle should be a permanent change for the rest of your life. There will be ups and downs, setbacks and difficult times. There are no failures, start back right away when you experience a setback. Don’t give up on your goal, remember why you want these healthier habits and be disciplined. You can do this!
Topics: LivRite News
Hindsight is 2020. Don’t spend the beginning of the New Year wishing you hadn’t let your health and wellness slide during the holiday season! Finish 2019 strong to set yourself up for a successful 2020.
Staying committed to your workouts and healthy nutrition is especially difficult this time of year with busier schedules, travel and extra temptation.
It’s hard but not impossible. The holidays don’t have to equal weight gain and lack of exercise setting you up with bad habits to break starting January 1.
If you are traveling this holiday season, you don’t have to completely abandon your regular nutrition practices when you are away from home.
Go into the trip with a plan so that you enjoy yourself instead of feeling guilty, sluggish and burnt out.
Every time you travel, aim to implement a bit more of a healthy nutrition routine; the more you do them, these practices become less overwhelming and require less thought.
Here are a few tips to keep your healthy habits through the end of the year.
1. Bring healthier food choices with you when you are on the go. Such as:
· Yogurt or cottage cheese
· Portable fruit like bananas, apples and oranges – Clementines are easy to eat on the go
· Cut fruit or veggies
· Hard-boiled eggs
· Trail mix
· Protein bars
· Dried fruit
· Raw or lightly seasoned nuts and seeds
· Grass-fed beef jerky
· Individual nut butter or hummus packets with cut veggies
· Oatmeal cups (you can ask for hot water to fill the cups from your flight attendant if you are on a plane or use hot water in your hotel room to make)
· Sandwiches you made at home (I’m partial to an almond butter and jelly sandwich when traveling since they don’t have to be refrigerated and travel well.)
· Whole-grain crackers or popcorn
· Electrolyte drink mixes (just mix with cold water)
2. Eating out? Check out the restaurant menu before you leave to decide on a healthier option.
3. At a holiday meal or party at someone else’s home? Don’t feel like you need to try everything or have seconds. Fill your plate with mostly vegetables and lean proteins. Eat half a serving of anything you’d like to try.
4. Keep your workouts in your schedule. These are appointments you can’t cancel! If you need to reschedule, do find another time to fit it in, but don’t cancel your time to exercise!
5. If you do need to reschedule your workout and have limited time, don’t worry! A short workout is better than no workout. A high intensity interval circuit is a great option for an awesome workout in a short amount of time. Need some ideas? Ask a trainer!
6. Have family or friends visiting? Have them join you to exercise. Find an activity that would be fun for everyone. Try a new workout class or gym. Find a workout video to do together at home. Go for a hike or walk and catch up.
7. Walk after your holiday meals. If you can, it is great to socialize with friends and family with a walk after your meal. It aids in digestion and adds some movement in your day.
8. Remember you are in control of what you eat and drink. You CAN be stronger than temptation. Choose your treats wisely. The holiday season is a few weeks long, you do not need to overindulge the entire time! Choose one or two celebrations to enjoy your favorite treats and then get right back to your normal eating habits.
Also, if you haven’t started eating healthier or an exercise routine, you don’t have to wait till 2020, start to tackle your goals now. End the year strong! Sure, there are lots of temptations this time of year, but you are stronger than that! Enjoy a holiday meal, don’t overdo it, then get right back on track the next day. Start implementing new healthier habits slowly in small steps will help you sustain them.
Finish 2019 strong to set yourself up for a successful 2020.
Have questions? Want help? Check with a LivRite trainer for more information on how to make your 2020 your healthiest and strongest year yet!
Topics: LivRite News
“I can’t cut back on sugar this week because my friend’s birthday is Friday and I want to have cake! I’ll start Monday.”
“I can’t join the gym now because I don’t have time to commit to workouts every day. I’ll think about it when this project at work ends and I have more time.”
“I was working out three times a week, but I missed two weeks so I might as well not start again.”
“I can’t start eating healthy now, the holidays are almost here and there’s no way I’ll keep it up then so what’s the point?”
Any of these sound familiar? When contemplating any kind of change we typically think the change has to be abrupt, hardcore, tough rules and all or nothing. That it has to be a perfect plan, followed to perfection. I have good news, it doesn’t!
Merriam-Webster defines perfect as “being entirely without fault or defect” , “satisfying all requirements” and “corresponding to an ideal standard or abstract concept”. We humans are not without sin and are full of flaws which means we cannot meet this definition of perfect. Perfection is a potentially destructive goal. If you are striving for perfect in all you do you may fail to enjoy the ride, or even small achievements in your life.
It may keep you from pursuing things you want in life. Psychology Today says perfectionism is, “A fast and enduring track to unhappiness, it is often accompanied by depression and eating disorders.” They add, “Perfection, of course is an abstraction, an impossibility in reality, and striving for it can lead to procrastination, a tendency to avoid challenges, rigid thinking and a lack of creativity.” Perfection is impossible! But still so many of us fall victim to striving for it.
Vince Lombardi said, “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.”
Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Or as Voltaire said, “The best is the enemy of the good.” If you are not willing to start until everything is perfect or until you think you can be perfect in meeting your goal, you are never going to start. When looking to improve your health, so many have the “The diet starts on Monday” mentality where you have to 100% be eating healthfully with no exception.
This type of thinking will keep you where you are in terms of health and fitness. If you don’t change, nothing changes. But it doesn’t have to be a complete overhaul overnight never to deviate from your idea of the “perfect” diet and exercise plan. Small changes to your eating habits and exercise routine count. Eating healthy meals on most days of the week is better than never eating healthier meals. Getting a workout in two days a week is way better than not working out at all. Don’t let the idea of perfection keep you from creating a healthier lifestyle. It’s not all or nothing.
Progress, not perfection!
If beginning an exercise routine is your goal, you may be worried about sticking with such a big time commitment. Any exercise is good. Even if you get just one walk in a week to start, that counts. If you make it to the gym twice a week, that counts. If you miss a week, come back the next. That’s ok! It doesn’t have to be a “perfect” workout regime. There is no such thing! Plus, starting with smaller goals is a great way to build to a sustainable healthier lifestyle.
Salvador Dali said, “Have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it.”
Focus on your progress, on your journey to adding more exercise in your life. Because it is something that should be done for life, not just thirty days or the few months before spring break. Taking care of your body is a lifelong commitment.
There are always going to be things that come up to disrupt your well laid plans for your workouts or healthy meal plan. Be prepared for those times and ready to hop right back on track again.
There is no failure when it comes to your health and wellness. Use any setback as a learning tool. It can help you better prepare for the next bump in the road.
Strive for excellence, but allow for imperfection.
Sometimes the goal we have in mind can seem so overwhelming, we don’t start because we think we will fail. Or we don’t know what steps to take to get there. To be successful, focus on the small steps that will lead to the big goal. Have a goal of running a marathon but you have never run a mile? Start with a goal of run/walking one mile three times a week.
Once you have achieved that goal, you can start moving toward the next win on your journey to running that marathon. Otherwise, you may get discouraged while training for your huge goal of running 26.2 miles straight.
Create benchmarks along the way and be proud of accomplishing each one. Not sure where to start? A personal trainer can help you set these smaller goals to achieve on the way to your overall fitness goal.
“It's not about perfect. It's about effort. And when you bring that effort every single day, that's where transformation happens. That's how change occurs.” - Jillian Michaels
Focusing on perfection will lead to a motivation crash the second something goes a little south. Knowing that health and fitness is a lifelong journey, not something that you are either on or you are off or pass or fail, will help you recover from any setbacks. Embrace the wins along the way when things are going well and use those wins to fuel you when you hit a road block.
If you do fall short of a goal, reflect on what happened and use it as a learning experience to help you along moving forward. It’s all part of the journey.
“Perfection is impossible; just strive to do your best.” -Angela Watson
Looking for perfection can hold you back in other ways as well. For example, I have started writing this post about ten times now. I write a few lines, delete some lines, then save it and come back and reread what I’ve written and delete some more and start again.
When talking with a client about my next blog post I told her that I was having trouble feeling satisfied with what I had written. As I explained that I didn’t want to submit it because I thought the post wasn’t good enough, a lightbulb went off and I realized I can keep writing and rewriting but it is never going to be perfect.
I’ll always find something that I want to come back and change, have grammatical errors, or feel like I didn’t get my point across as I had hoped. I can’t let my perfectionist ways keep me from finishing (or starting) a project or blog post or new workout plan. It may never be what I would deem perfect, but I hope that I, and others, benefit from what I have accomplished.
“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.” – John Steinbeck
We are human, we are imperfect, we are unique. There will always be things that sway you from your path to your target. Being flexible, focusing on the process and celebrating your progress will help you overcome obstacles, because you know there will be ups and downs.
The path to success isn’t a straight line. Celebrate your successes along the way and don’t let perfectionism keep you off the path to your goal.
One of the most common complaints I hear from clients is knee pain. Someone will tell me they can’t exercise because they have bad knees, or I will hear they don’t want to exercise for fear of hurting their knees. Knee pain is something that affects millions of people in the United States. According to a study published in American Family Physician, “Knee pain affects approximately 25% of adults, and its prevalence has increased almost 65% over the past 20 years, accounting for nearly 4 million primary care visits annually.”. There are many reasons why one could be suffering from knee pain and it can happen at any age.
The Knee Joint
The knee is the largest joint in the body. It allows your leg to bend and straighten by connecting the upper leg bone (femur) to the two lower leg bones (the tibia and fibula). There are two pieces of cartilage (the medial and lateral meniscus) that sit and act as cushions between these bones. (There is also additional cartilage that covers the long bones that is different than the meniscus.) Numerous ligaments act as stabilizers in your knee and tendons connect the bones to the muscles. Your kneecap (patella) sits on the front of your knee and moves up and down when you bend and straighten your knee
Two groups of muscles are the main support to the knees. One are the hamstrings, which are the muscles on the back of the thigh. They run from the hip to just below the knee and work to bend the knee. The other are the quadriceps, which are the four muscles on front of the thigh that run from the hip to the knee and straighten the knee from a bent position. Your hip muscles can also affect your knee, as they control the way your knee moves and work together with the other muscles connected to your knee.
What Are Some Causes of Knee Pain?
A common cause of knee pain can be from an imbalance in the strength around the knee. For example, “Runner’s Knee” (patellofemoral pain syndrome) is pain right behind and around the knee cap. Runner’s knee isn’t a structural problem (like a torn meniscus), the issue lies in how your muscles function. It is most often a result of abnormal mechanics caused by muscle weakness and/or tightness in the legs or core that forces the patella to bump against the femoral groove causing pain. Often our quadriceps are stronger than the hip muscles and/or hamstrings. Strength training for the posterior hip muscles, like the gluteus medius will help correct this incorrect movement of the kneecap. Tight muscles can also be a cause of misalignment. Static stretching after exercise and foam rolling can help relieve tight muscles.
This doesn’t just happen in runners. Many people have an imbalance in the strength around the knee which causes the knee to be unstable. This can be caused by our sedentary lifestyles. When we spend the majority of the time sitting, our hips, glutes and hamstrings are tight and not as strong as our quadriceps.
Hip or foot pain can change the way you walk. This altered gait can place more stress on your knee joint. In some cases this can cause knee pain. Identifying the cause of the hip or foot pain is important to realign your gait and subsequently ease the additional joint pain. Sometimes a pair of shoes can change your posture and walk. Making sure your shoes have the support you need is important to prevent any injuries or ease existing pain.
Excess body weight can also put a lot of pressure on the knees. A study showed that each pound of weight loss can reduce the load on the knee joint by 4 pounds. Lose 10 pounds, and that’s 40 fewer pounds per step that your knees must support. Less pressure means less wear and tear on the knees.
Inflammation is another cause of knee pain and can be due to a variety of reasons. Being overweight may increase inflammation in the body that can lead to joint pain. Losing weight, a healthy diet, reduction of stress and good sleep are all things that can reduce this inflammatory response. Inflammation is also a symptom of arthritis.
There are many different types of arthritis. The three types that most often occur in your knees are Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Post-Injury Arthritis. Osteoarthritis is a progressive condition that slowly wears away joint cartilage. Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory condition that can strike at any age. Another type of arthritis can develop following an injury to the knee.
Knee injuries can include torn meniscus or ruptured ligaments, inflamed tendons or torn cartilage. Injuries can be caused by many different reasons; including sports injuries, falls or other accidents.
Should You Exercise with Knee Pain?
Now that you have a bigger picture of how it all works together, it should make sense that having strong muscles and bones to support the knees can help, and may eliminate or prevent pain. By building strong muscles, you can reduce knee pain and stress and help your knee joint better absorb shock. Strengthening exercises involve developing stronger muscles in your quadriceps, hips, and hamstring. Having strong muscles in place can take some of the pressure off your knees.
A common misconception is that exercises can harm your knee joints by placing excess pressure on them, especially in high impact activities such as running or high impact exercises. A study in the National Institutes of Health shows that arthritis in the knees is not more common in those that run. A report by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) provides strong evidence that exercise is, in fact, good for the knees. The findings concluded that exercise actually helps improve the cartilage in between joints instead of breaking it down.
Keeping moving with low impact activities and strength training will help arthritis pain. Swimming, water aerobics, stationary bicycles and low impact aerobics are all good examples of low impact activities appropriate for those with arthritis. Movement is lotion for the joints.
Here are a few exercises to help strengthen the muscles that support the knee. I would recommend starting with 10 repetitions of each. Only increase that number when you can perform them easily, without pain or difficultly. Complete a 5 minute warm up, a walk or stationary bike, prior to completing these exercises.
Lateral Band Walks
Place a resistance band around your ankles. Come into a half-squat position, with core tight and glutes engaged. Without letting your knees cave in, and keeping your weight in your heels, step out sideways with one foot, and slowly follow with the other foot. (You can add a second resistance band above your knee for additional challenge.)
Forward/Backward Band Walks
Place a resistance band around your ankles. Come into a half-squat position, with core tight and glutes engaged. Step forward at a 45-degree angle with one foot, and follow with other foot. Repeat on the other side.
For backward, take a step backwards at a 45-degree angle.
Stand up straight with your back to a wall and your feet parallel, about two feet away from the wall, spread hip-width. Slide down the wall slowly until you are just about in a sitting position. Hold that position for up to 10 seconds and then slowly slide back up. Don't allow your knees to overextend in front of your toes.
Lie flat on your stomach. Slowly bring your heels as close to your butt as you can, and hold that position for a few seconds then release and extend your legs. You can also do this exercise standing while you hold onto a chair and lift one leg at a time.
Hip Raise or Bridge
Lay on your back on the floor. Bend knees keeping feet on the floor. Heels should be close to the butt. Pushing off with the heels, squeeze your gluteal muscles and lift the hips towards the ceiling and slowly lower your hips back to the floor rolling your spine down one vertebrae at a time.
Simply stand with your heels hanging over the edge of a stair and rise up onto your toes to perform calf raises.
There are many ways to strengthen the muscles that support the knee. Exercise selection depends on your fitness level and your specific knee issue. Consulting with a physician, physical therapist or personal trainer can help determine what is appropriate for you. The best thing you can do for existing knee pain, and to prevent knee pain, is to strengthen the muscles that support your knee and keep them flexible. Don’t let knee pain keep you sidelined, keep moving!
Topics: LivRite News