It is an alarming fact that I in 5 Australians suffer from arthritis according to Arthritis Australia (AA). That body is Australia’s peak arthritis body. It provides support and information about arthritis, promotes awareness of the challenges faced by people with arthritis, funds research and keeps health professionals informed.
If you have arthritis or at risk of developing a musculoskeletal condition (a disease that affects people’s muscles and bones) you may feel confused about how safe it is to exercise with arthritis. The answer, according to AA, is that it is perfectly safe to exercise with arthritis and in fact it is beneficial. Even for those in terrible pain, for whom exercise is the last thing that they want to do, that is exactly what they should be doing. Staying still will only make joint pain worse, cause muscles to wither and put more strain on the very joints that they need to protect. Regular and consistent exercise (based on advice from a medical or para-medical practitioner) can help to ‘manage’ arthritis, relieving the pain and inflammation to enable a better quality of life. The Joint Movement® exercise program was researched and initiated by AA, in conjunction with leading health and fitness experts, in response to the uncertainty people reported about whether exercise would help or worsen arthritis symptoms.
And what about the role of water exercise in ameliorating the symptoms of arthritis?
Exercising in warm water is one of the most comfortable and effective ways that a person with arthritis can exercise. That is because the water supports their body, taking the weight off inflamed and painful joints. For such classes, the water is heated to 340C, as the warmth helps tight joints and muscles to loosen up and relax, easing any soreness and soothing any pain.
The role of the water in such exercises is two-fold: not only does it soothe and support the human body but it also offers resistance to movements, acting a bit like a weight to help strengthen muscles during the exercise. Under guidance from a physiotherapist, the water can offer as much or as little resistance as one likes; press hard on the water for maximum resistance, press less for less or minimal resistance. That enables participants to instantly adapt the exercises to suit their individual needs, and means that the exercises can be beneficial for different people with different levels of strength and mobility.
Each class begins with a warm up, followed by a selection of exercises that move through the body to give a full body work-out for overall wellbeing, and ends with a warm-down. The exercise regime covers the whole body, not just specific joints – it works those joints that are affected by arthritis as well as those that aren’t, acting as a preventative measure as well as treatment.
In 2014, the Phillip Island Aquatic Centre Committee presented a Submission to the Bass Coast Shire Council, in order to convince Council that Phillip Island needed to have its own Aquatic Centre. In May 2014 Council resolved that such an Aquatic Centre was indeed required. As part of the research for the submission (and included in the submission) the Committee determined that the average age profile of the permanent population of Phillip Island was 5 years older than the average for all Victorian municipalities. Surely it is not too much of a stretch to propose that the incidence of arthritis in the Island population would therefore also be higher than the State average. That supposition highlights even more why Phillip Island needs its own Aquatic Centre NOW.
This article was a collaboration carried out by members of our committee including sourced from “Arthritis Australia.”
Authorized by: Peter McMahon Secretary PIACF Inc