Sticking With It: How Not to Be a Fitness Drop-Out

Studies have shown that people with chronically painful joints are likely to reap special benefit from exercise plans designed to improve muscle strength, flexibility, and endurance. Unfortunately, more than 50 percent of men and women who launch potentially helpful exercise programs abandon them within three to six months, a common complaint being that the increased physical activity has brought on increased pain and heightened the fear of further damage to vulnerable joints. None of these sorry consequences is inevitable if the exercise plan is well conceived, says John Bergfeld, MD, a senior physician in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Cleveland Clinic. Arthritis patients should have little trouble sticking with a program as long as it has been carefully designed to be enjoyable, reasonably challenging and, above all, calibrated according to the individual patients limitations.
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