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D E P A R T M E N T
Arthritis – you can do something about it
The type of arthritis we are referring to and which commonly affects older people is
called osteoarthritis. As you get older (or sometimes because of an injury), the
joints of the body may become worn and damaged. This can cause pain, stiffness
and sometimes swelling in the joints, especially in the fingers, spine, knee and hip.
But although there’s no cure, there’s a lot you can do to relieve the symptoms.
How does being active help this type of arthritis?
People often think that having arthritis means that you should do as little as
possible. Keeping physically active and doing regular exercise can:
• keep joints flexible and prevent stiffness (this can reduce pain),
• strengthen bones and muscles,
• help control weight (extra kilos put more pressure on knee joints and increase
• make you feel more relaxed.
Which physical activities help arthritis?
Any activities that keep you moving help arthritis. The best time to be active is
when you feel less stiffness, have the least pain, and when your medication is
working best. Suggestions for physical activities include:
• Everyday chores like sweeping, cleaning, hanging out washing and gardening
all help keep you flexible.
• Going for regular walks (at least three times weekly).
• Try swimming, cycling or dancing.
Ask your doctor or local community health centre if the following low cost activities
are available in your area:
• Gentle exercise classes.
These classes (some are bilingual) teach simple exercises which help you stay
stronger and more flexible.
• Tai Chi.
Exercises use simple flowing movements which improve strength and flexibility.
• Water exercises.
Exercising in water is great for arthritis. The water bears your weight so there’s
less pressure on your joints. Exercise classes (aquarobics) are available at
swimming pools in many areas.
Aquatic physiotherapy (also known as hydrothe