Exercise, particularly strength training, can restore function and reduce the pain of arthritis, as Tufts research scientists have discovered. In Strong Women and Men Beat Arthritis, the team of researchers, headed by Miriam Nelson, Ph.D., presents a home exercise program based on a study of 46 people with severe osteoarthritis of the knee. In four months, the group--who exercised in their homes with easy-to-find equipment--reported 43 percent less pain, 44 percent improved function, and 71 percent increased muscle strength.
The 16-week exercise program starts with a daily half-hour of core exercises and adds intensity and additional exercises after the first month. The program combines strength, aerobic, and flexibility exercises, with the main focus on strength training. You'll need dumbbells, ankle weights, and an exercise step (or staircase). Even newcomers to exercise will find the illustrated instructions simple enough and the level low enough to start immediately.
The program includes a nutritional plan to reduce stiffness and inflammation, emphasizing water, fruits, vegetables, and the right fatty acid ratios. The authors also discuss medications (they work best in combination with exercise and nutrition) and sort through alternative treatments.
Nelson is the well-known author of Strong Women Eat Well, Strong Women Stay Young, Strong Women Stay Slim, and Strong Women, Strong Bones. This title is highly recommended for arthritis sufferers who want to improve their quality of life. --Joan Price