One of the main reasons people invest in an Acorn Stairlift is to alleviate the effects of arthritis.
For people suffering with arthritis, especially in their hips and legs, going up and down stairs can become a painful, time-consuming and even dangerous ordeal. Investing in a stairlift quickly and simply removes the obstacle of stairs, effectively turning your house into a bungalow and allowing you to enjoy full use of it now and into the future.
Once they have experienced the pleasure of gliding up and down stairs at the flick of a switch, many of our customers tell us they wish they’d bought a stairlift sooner. Some also tell us they’d actually put off buying one because they thought climbing the stairs, however painful, was the only exercise they got.
But the stairs are never a good place to exercise, especially if your mobility is restricted. Yes, it is important to exercise, particularly if you have arthritis, but it is more important to do it in a safe and controlled way.
Exercising may seem like the last thing you want to do if you experience pain from arthritis, but there is strong evidence that the right kind of exercise is one of the best ways of keeping pain at bay. Exercising regularly can also bring a better range of movement and joint mobility, increased muscle strength, less stiffness, more energy and a healthier heart.
More importantly, the right kind of exercise will not make your arthritis any worse. If you need to lose a little weight, doing so will put less strain on your joints. Strengthening the muscles around your joints will also help them to work better and with less pain.
The main thing is to get good advice about what kind of exercise will bring you the most benefit. You should always consult your doctor or physiotherapist before starting a new exercise regime. They should be able to help you choose an exercise programme which will suit you and your individual needs. It’s also important not to overdo it.
Start small and gradually build up at a rate which suits you. A little and often is a good approach to exercising. If you start with five to 10 minutes twice a day, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you feel able to do a bit more. Your muscles may ache a bit at first, but again this will ease as you become more used to exercising regularly.
An effective exercise programme will include three types of exercise:
· Gentle stretching exercises will increase your range of movement, helping to maintain strength, flexibility and good posture.
· Strengthening exercises will help to build up the muscles which support your joints, making them more mobile and less painful.
· Aerobic exercises will raise your heart rate and increase blood flow around your body. This strengthens your heart and allows your muscles to work more effectively.
For people with arthritis it is important to avoid exercise which ‘jolts’ the joints, such as jogging. But there are lots of aerobic exercises which can be beneficial, including swimming, walking, cycling, yoga, Pilates, tai chi or dancing. Again, your local GP surgery should be able to advise you on suitable exercise classes in your area. If you choose a type of exercise you enjoy, you are more likely to carry on with it, and joining a group or class could lead to making new friends and enriching your social life.
You can also incorporate exercise into your daily life if you don’t want to take up a specific activity. Choosing to walk more often, perhaps to the shops or park, will help. You can also treat housework as exercise, such as vacuuming or sweeping. Even washing up will give your finger joints a bit of a workout!
If you’re not confident to exercise standing up, perhaps because of mobility or balance problems, you can still exercise sitting down. There are a range of effective exercises which can be performed while sitting, sometimes called “chairobics”.
A great place for more advice about exercising when you have arthritis is the Arthritis Care website. It offers a wide range of advice and support for people living with arthritis, including a dedicated section on ‘Exercise and arthritis’. You can also buy a DVD through the website which will get you going with some gentle and fun exercises which you can perform while sitting down, helping improve mobility, flexibility, strength and confidence.
You can also contact Arthritis Care for more information on its free helpline number, 0808 800 4050.