When asked if she had any advice for others with osteoarthritis (OA), three-time Olympic medallist Nathalie Lambert had an emphatic answer: stay active!
As Director of Corporate Sales and Communication at a health club in downtown Montreal, Nathalie has seen that people with OA tend to become less active. "They may be fine for a couple of years," she says, "but eventually their arthritis gets a lot worse because they're not exercising."
Without exercise, Nathalie warns, the joints get stiffer and muscles get weaker, so the joints end up taking more of the stress because the muscles are weak. And she speaks from experience - when she broke her ankle and couldn't train for a while, she found that her arthritis got worse because she lost muscle mass. People who stop exercising also lose their range of motion.
Nathalie urges people with OA to stay active "to make sure you don't lose what you have." The best exercise, she says, depends on which parts of your body are affected by OA. Swimming, elliptical trainers, and biking are great for lower body problems. Walking is also great exercise. Dancing gives a full workout and helps maintain flexibility and range of motion. Whichever activity you choose, it's critical to keep moving. As Nathalie says "the less you exercise, the worse it is."
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