Exercise can help everyone stay healthy and feel their best. Exercise can reduce stress, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, improve sleep, promote a healthy weight, and help prevent the development of heart disease and diabetes. For people with all forms of spondylitis, exercise is one of the most important things you can do to treat your condition. Just a few minutes of gentle exercise each day can improve flexibility and mobility, preserve function, help you sleep better, and even help reduce pain. Exercise can make it easier to perform daily activities that spondylitis has made difficult.
Regular exercise does not necessarily mean going to the gym or playing sports. Many types of gentle exercise can provide significant benefits to people with spondylitis.
What does it involve?
Check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise regimen. Consider consulting with a physical therapist to develop a customized exercise plan that will be safe and effective for your needs. There are stretches and physical activities appropriate for any level of ability.
It is important to choose a type of physical activity you will enjoy and can regularly do. Some people with spondylitis have had good results with yoga, tai chi, water-based exercises, and Pilates. Others learn exercises they can do at home from a physical therapist. Activities such as gardening or walking a pet can help you stay active and healthy. Incorporate social aspects by taking a class or going for walks with a friend. Be creative. Exercise should be somewhat challenging, but never a struggle.
Whatever physical activity you choose, follow these general guidelines. Eat at least an hour and a half before exercising to avoid low blood sugar. Always begin your exercise session with a gradual warm-up and take the time to cool down afterward. Warming up and cooling down will help prevent injuries and sore muscles. Stay hydrated before, during, and after exercise with plenty of cool liquids, choosing beverages without caffeine.
It is important not to become discouraged early on when beginning a regimen of physical activity. At first, try to exercise for five or 10 minutes each day. As you become accustomed to the activity, exercise for longer periods every day. Focus on finding ways of staying active that are safe, enjoyable and easy to do regularly. If you experience new or worse pain, adjust your activity program to keep it safe and rewarding.
Regular exercise can decrease pain, improve flexibility, function, and sleep, and better mood and general health.
The results of several clinical trials indicate that regular exercise is a key part of treating spondylitis.
Many people with spondylitis live with pain, stiffness, and coordination issues that can make it challenging and discouraging to exercise.
Medication side effects can make interfere with physical activity.
If you exercise too hard, you may feel sore for a day or two afterward. Soreness is a sign that you should take it a little easier next time. If one type of exercise does not work for you, consider trying another.
Inappropriate exercises could result in injury, especially for people with advanced cases of ankylosing spondylitis.
For more details about this treatment, visit:
Exercise matters - Take charge - Take action – National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society (UK)
Flexibility and Strengthening Exercises for Ankylosing Spondylitis – WebMD
Patient education: Ankylosing spondylitis and other spondyloarthritis (Beyond the Basics) – UpToDate
Physiotherapy for ankylosing spondylitis: Systematic review and a proposed rehabilitation protocol. – Currently Rheumatology Reviews