Nowadays, many people lead a sedentary lifestyle. After sitting during our commute to work, we sit behind a desk for eight (or more) hours a day, then sit some more for the commute back home. Once we’ve arrived, we’re mentally exhausted, so we sit and watch TV, look at our phones or play video games. That’s a lot of sitting.
For those people with arthritis, a sedentary lifestyle may not be their first choice, but pain and stiffness keep them from moving around as much as they might like. It becomes a vicious cycle. Sitting or lying down for much of the time only contributes to joint degradation.
While being a couch potato may not be what we’d choose, either due to our jobs or a health condition, circumstances beyond our control put many of us in that very situation. And it’s a problem. Our bodies were meant to move. We’re only now discovering what being sedentary does to us.
What Inactivity Does to Your Joints
Anyone who’s sat and watched a movie without getting up at all knows how stiff you can become simply from inactivity. Do that consistently over time, and for more than two or three hours at a go, and you can imagine the results.
Studies show that sitting too much is related to weight gain and muscle loss. Gaining weight puts more stress on our joints. Plus, our joints depend on our muscular system to support them. If we stop using them, they become weak and make movement more painful and difficult. It’s a use-it-or-lose-it situation.
Researchers discovered that adults who have osteoarthritis in their knees tend to spend two-thirds of their time sitting or lying down. These people walk slower than their counterparts who are less sedentary, and have more trouble standing up from a chair than their more active peers.
It’s understandable. When normal activities like standing, walking or going shopping become painful, it’s perfectly natural to try and avoid the discomfort. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that, in fact, engaging in physical activity can decrease arthritis pain, particularly if the exercise is low impact.
What You Can Do
First, don’t resign yourself to becoming a couch potato. Recognize that it will only make matters worse over time. Instead, take control.
A routine as simple as getting up and stretching every 30 minutes or so while at work or home can help. The CDC also recommends that adults get two-and-a-half hours of moderate physical activity each week. (“Moderate” means doing something that gets your heart rate going but not to the degree that you’re unable to speak.) That translates into 20 or 25 minutes per day.
Before you start a fitness regime, however, you’ll probably want to confer with a joint specialist who can assess your pain and make recommendations for what treatments are best for you. Joint replacements, though common, are invasive and not without risk, so these should be done only as a last resort. Instead, work with your medical professional to explore exercises, bracing options, changes to lifestyle and non-invasive therapies to improve mobility and reduce your pain.
If you’re tired of being a spud but aren’t sure what to do to get off the couch, contact Flexogenix today. The experts there will analyze your joints and how they move to develop a customized course of treatment that will help restore mobility and reduce pain, including exercises you can do at home.
Go ahead—break up with your sofa!