You may think gout is a condition people get when they reach old age. But gout typically occurs in men between the ages of 40 and 50, notes MayoClinic.com. Women are less susceptible to it until after menopause. People who are overweight are at a greater risk of experiencing gout, so exercise may help to prevent occurrence. However, even exercise can pose risks of inflammation in the joints. Talk to your doctor if you have gout, and discuss exercise as a means of prevention.
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Gout is perceived as a sharp, painful tenderness in the joints, typically in the big toe. The joint is often so swollen and hot that even the slightest touch of fabric can feel unbearable. Gout is caused when urate crystals form around your joints. These urate crystals come from the body's breakdown of substances called purines. Purines are a natural part of the body, but you also ingest them in foods such as organ meats, herring, asparagus and mushrooms. In a normal system, urate crystals do not form. According to the MayoClinic.com, uric acid dissolves in the bloodstream and is filtered by the kidneys and passed out through urine. If there is too much uric acid, or too little, the acid can build up, and crystals form, which are sharp and needle-like.
Exercise and Gout
Gout, according to MayoClinic.com, can be aggravated by being overweight. So exercise can be important in preventing gout attacks. If you are overweight, you can produce more uric acid. However, losing weight too rapidly can temporarily increase uric acid levels, according to the website. It is also important to allow an inflamed joint to rest. Gout is a type of arthritis, and generally recommendations for arthritis patients are applicable in cases of gout. Listen to your body and follow your doctor's advice about exercise. If you are overweight, take it easy on joints, avoiding exercises that put high stress on your particular area of inflammation.
Range of Motion Exercises
Range of motion, or ROM, exercises can help reduce stiffness in your joints, states the article "Exercising with Osteoarthritis" published online by "Arthritis Today." If you have been sitting in the same position for a long time, change position or move your joints. Rotate the affected joint gently, turning your head or neck, ankles or wrists. Do not push a joint too hard, as it can cause a painful flare-up of inflammation. Talk to your doctor about what ROM exercises would be best for you.
Typically an important part of any exercise program, strength training can help build up muscle tone. The article in "Arthritis Today" also recommends strengthening muscles, particularly around the affected joints. Proper alignment and posture is imperative; injuring a joint through improper technique can worsen your gout symptoms. Again, do not exercise or use an inflamed joint. Strength training should be done when a joint is not painful or swollen.
Cardiovascular, or aerobic, exercise increases heart rate, promoting more oxygen flow to the body. It also helps to burn calories, promoting weight loss. Because gout often attacks the big toe and foot areas, talk to you doctor before engaging in aerobic exercise. High impact aerobics and other activities may aggravate your symptoms. Lower impact exercises, like swimming, may be better for your particular case.