Although regular exercise is important for all children, physical activity has unique benefits for children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). With help from doctors, coaches, or physical therapists, children with arthritis can safely exercise and play almost all sports without worrying about injuring their joints.
How Exercising Helps Kids with Arthritis
Children afflicted with JIA may not get as much physical activity as their peers. This is unfortunate because more physically active children have less severe pain and fewer pain-related limitations in their activities. Staying active has many benefits for children with JIA, including:
- Pain control
- Helping maintain a healthy weight
- Keeping bones strong
- Keeping joints flexible
- Helping to strengthen muscles
- Improving mood, sleep, and energy levels
- Building confidence
Types of Exercises to Try
Kids with JIA may need different types of exercise to improve their strength. A child’s activities should be based on their age, how severe or well-controlled their arthritis is, and what they like to do. As a baseline, exercises should include a mixture of:
With that being said, here are some of the safe and beneficial forms of exercise that children can do, even when their arthritis is flaring.
Swimming is an excellent exercise for children or adolescents with arthritis because it improves cardiovascular health, range of motion, and muscle strength. The action of swimming is safe for most joints.
If you have pool access, aquatic exercises may be the most beneficial thing your child can do to strengthen their joints. Water buoyancy helps support the body’s weight, which reduces stress on weight-bearing joints. The resistance water provides help to build