Exercise is beneficial to the body because it is built for physical activities. But for those who have arthritis, exercise may seem to be impossible. Some patients with arthritis usually take it as a disability due to the severe pain, joint stiffness, and fatigue which impair their physical function. Even after controlling or treating the condition through the use of powerful disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), patients still suffer from the inflicted limitations which may often lead to work disability, especially for those who are with the workforce.   However, exercise has been shown to significantly improve some or all of these symptoms, especially function as well as psychological well-being as it helps in the production of dopamine, the happy hormones. Gentle and low-impact exercise maintain the joint’s full range of motion, minimizes stress on the joint and increases its flexibility and strength at the same time. Especially for the knees which is one of the key joints that is responsible for your mobility. Whether you have arthritis or not, you are encouraged to exercise and indulge your body with physical activities.   To help you, here are 5 easy exercises that will strengthen your knees.    

1.Walking

  This is one of the most basic exercises that you can do. You can do it early in the morning while the sun is up because it is the greatest source of vitamin D or the bone-strengthening vitamin.   When you have osteoarthritis, your cartilage can become damaged and worn. As a result, your knees experience pain, stiffness and activity limitation. By walking, your cartilage absorbs nutrients through the compression and decompression of your body weight thereby helping in the rebuilding of joints. Walking also aids in the building of muscles which can take the pressure off your joints and handle more of your body weight. Moreover, walking helps you lose weight. When there’s less weight, there’s less pressure and less pain in your knees. However, do not overdo it. Some people exercise too hard that they get sore the next day. A 10 to 30 minutes of exercise most of the days is enough for you to stay healthy. However, when you have a sudden increase in swelling and severe pain, these are warning signs that you should stop and consult your doctor.    

2.Squats

  Squats will strengthen the muscle around your knees. Doing squats will also help you avoid injuries since you are duplicating the movements you naturally perform in your daily activities. Doing 10 repetitions, and slowly working up to three sets of 10 will helps you achieve healthy knees, stronger legs and stable lower back.   How to do it?   Step 1. Stand with your feet shoulder-distance apart and stretch your arms out in front of you. Step 2. Slowly bend your knees until you’re in a half-sitting position. Hold on to a chair for balance, if necessary. Step 3. Keep your back straight and chest lifted — don’t lean forward. Step 4. With your feet flat on the floor, hold the position for 5 seconds, then slowly stand back up. Step 5. Hamstring Stretch (Lying)    

3.Lying Hamstring Stretch

  According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, hamstring muscle stretching may prevent injuries due to the overuse of joints and muscles, particularly those in the knee area.   How to do it?   Step 1. Lie on the floor or bed with both legs bent. Step 2. Slowly lift one leg, still bent, and bring your knee back toward your chest. Step 3. Link your hands behind your thigh, not your knee, and straighten your leg. Step 4. Pull your straight leg back toward your head until you feel the stretch. Step 5. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds, then slowly bend your knee and lower your leg back to the floor.    

4.Backward Lunges

  Backward lunges are safer for the knees because this type of exercise targets the muscles of the glutes, hamstrings, and quads, the muscles near your knees. The pressure is reduced in the knees when you perform backward lunges compared to regular lunges.   How to do it?   Step 1. Stand with feet hip-width apart, engage your core and keep your back straight. Place hands on hips and inhale. Step 2. Exhale and stride one leg back, toes pointing ahead and keeping hips aligned (backward lunges really help to improve balance). Step 3. Bend both knees until hips are slightly lower than the knee. Step 4. Raise to standing the same way. Do not arch your back (try to slightly tuck in the tailbone), keep your gaze up and ensure your core is engaged throughout. Step 5. Repeat on the other side.   You should start slowly on this. Feel your body, go as low as you can until you feel comfortable before building up to a lunge until the back of your knee is very close to the ground.  

5.Leg Stretch

  Leg stretches do not only strengthen your quadriceps but also stabilizes your knee joints.   How to do it?   Step 1. Sit on the floor with both legs out straight. Stabilize yourself with your hands on either side of your hips, and keep your back straight. Step2. Slowly bend one knee until it feels stretched, but not until it becomes painful. Step 3. Hold your leg in that position for 5 seconds, then slowly straighten your leg out as far as you can, again holding for 5 seconds.   Aside from these easy knee exercises, a proper and healthy diet is important to help maintain the strength of your knees. Foods rich in Vitamin C, Omega 3, Quercetin, Curcumin, Bromelain, Collagen and many others can help reduce inflammation and ease joint pain. On the other hand, you should be careful with foods that are rich in saturated fats, omega 6 and Sodium. By taking care of yourself and living a healthy lifestyle you can enjoy everyday activities longer and enjoy life to the fullest.

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