What a bummer! You need to exercise to keep your heart fit but arthritis keeps you from moving. This is especially tough because arthritis seems to be quite common among those with heart disease. A whopping 14.1 million American adults suffer from some form of heart disease. Another couple of millions have arthritis. Many suffer from both.
Physical activity is on top of the list of recommendations for people with heart disease because exercise brings lots of health benefits including “improved physical function and lowered blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels.”
And though it may not seem so, those with arthritis also benefit from regular exercise because it reduces arthritis pain and improve functioning of the joints.
But then check out the following statistics:
- 57 percent of adults with heart disease have arthritis.
- 29 percent of adults with arthritis and heart disease were inactive, compared to 21 percent of people with heart disease alone, 18 percent of those with arthritis, and 11 percent of adults with neither condition.
It seems that heart disease and arthritis co-occurring together make the perfect combination to make a patient sedentary. Data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System show that lack of physical exercise is common among those with both heart disease and arthritis which unfortunately makes these diseases even worse. Much more, many of these people are not aware of the adverse effects of being sedentary and may even think that exercise would exacerbate rather that help with their conditions.
So what are these people supposed to do?
According to Dr. Janet Collins, director of CDC′s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion:
Some of the recommendations they have come up with are:
- Disease self-management classes, including exercise programs that address arthritis-specific barriers.
- Joint-friendly activities, such as walking, swimming, and biking.
- Specially tailored programs such as Chronic Disease Self-Management Program, the Arthritis Foundation′s Exercise Program, and Enhance Fitness.
It is possible to consider alternative physical movement programs such as yoga, tai chi, pilates, etc. These programs are not as physical strenuous as regular exercise but can still be beneficial if done properly and can be tailored to individual needs.