Have Arthritis? Still Can Travel!

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September 1, 2013

By Joy Graham

If you have some type of arthritis, you are just one of the 37 million people in America who suffer with this condition. There are over 170 different types of arthritis but they all have one thing in common: arthritis causes inflammation of one or more joints. Symptoms may include:

• Joint pain
• Redness the joint
• Joint stiffness, especially in the morning
• Joint swelling
• Warmth around the joint
• Limited movement

While different types of arthritis have different causes and need to be tested and diagnosed by a professional, all arthritis sufferers have hope of possible treatment which will help eliminate the underlying cause.

Exercise will help eliminate most of the symptoms of arthritis and should be individualized, depending on type of arthritis and severity, to help build endurance, strong bones, muscular strength and flexibility. When traveling, planning is essential for a successful, healthy, fun trip.

First, map your trip route and plan for pit stops along the way. A person with arthritis will need to stop at least every two hours to move and keep the joints lubricated. If you are planning to be the driver and you take some kind of medication for your arthritis, be sure that the medication does not make you sleepy, and shorten your leg of the trip to 1 1/2 hour of driving, maximum. When you stop, be sure to walk and stretch, especially your legs. Preplan your activities when stopping for the night.  For example walk for at least 30 minutes. Include some type of resistance exercises and stretching.

The aerobic and resistance activity should change each day if possible to keep you motivated and interested (see activity choices below to make your chart). The stretches are a must and should be consistent. If you do this before you leave then you will set yourself up for success. You will build endurance and feel more energetic, boost your metabolism (which will help with weight loss or control), increase your muscular strength, keep your bones strong and maintain flexibility. All of these will decrease your arthritis symptoms and make your joints happier.

Aerobic or endurance-building activities include:

• Walking
• Dancing
• Climbing
• Swimming
• Biking

Resistance exercises or muscle strengthening should include core and upper body conditioning such as:

• Abdominal crunches or reverse crunch
• Side bends or twisting
• Pilates core move the plank
• Upper body: bicep curls, triceps dips, push-ups, pull-ups using your body weight for resistance or using a simple, packable dynaband
• Isometric moves which include tensing the muscles you want to make stronger and holding the contraction for 3-4 seconds 15-20 times

Stretching or flexibility moves include:

• Hip rotations • Hamstring
• Quadriceps
• Achilles
• Back
• Fingers
• Elbows

Remember to plan ahead and get moving. Moving joints are happy joints. Enjoy your trip!

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