Beat the Winter Blues

Beating the Winter Blues Here we are in the middle of winter! This can be a time of diminished activity due to cold, icy weather and early sunset. It is important to keep moving during this season or else we may be prone to increased stiffness, pain and even depression. Last month we talked about the importance of exercise for overall good health; this month we will continue that idea but will focus on the topic of degenerative arthritis. As we age our joints become stiffer due to a decrease in joint fluid. This decrease is a natural part of aging but is accelerated by decreased joint movement and mobility. Joint fluid is replenished by the literal pumping motion of joints as they move. It makes sense then that a joint that is not moved will lose fluid more quickly. If you have degenerative joint disease especially in the knees, hips or spine you will want to keep moving. Good exercises that are low load on the joints include: swimming, elliptical machines, cycling, rowing and brisk walking. Generally, any exercise that moves major joints through a full range of motion without impact are good. If you are not sure about a particular exercise talk to your Doctor or Therapist. These exercises should be performed for at least 30 minutes 5 times per week at an appropriate heart rate (see last months blog). Stretching is also critical for good joint mobility and is best performed after you exercise for 30 minutes. Get good instruction on this as you do not want to risk an injury. If joints seem stuck and hard to move a visit with a Chiropractor or Physical Therapist would be in order. Exercise is proven to combat depression by increasing endorphins and a general feeling of well being. This is obvious to anyone who has been confined to bed can tell; it is much better to be moving than sitting still for prolonged periods! So this winter get away from the TV which is depressing in and of itself and off of the couch for just a few minutes a day and move your body. You will feel and perform much better and will literally slow aging in the process! Winter is not that bad!

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