Regular exercise is an important part of your AS treatment program. It helps to relieve pain and stiffness, keep joints moving, improve your posture, and improve flexibility. Exercise also ensures you can continue to move your spine and expand your chest. Most people with AS feel better with exercise.
Before starting any exercise program, it's best to consult with your doctor or physiotherapist to ensure the exercises you perform are appropriate for you. In general, there are 3 types of exercises to incorporate into your physical activities:
- Flexibility exercises
Flexibility (stretching, range-of-motion) exercises should be done on a daily basis. They are relaxing, aid in warming up before a more challenging exercise, and help protect joints from injury. Tai chi and yoga are good examples of range-of-motion exercises.
- Strengthening exercises
Strengthening exercises use resistance or weight to work your muscles and increase their strength. Strong, fit muscles help protect joints from injury and improve posture. Strengthening exercises should be done every other day after you have warmed up with flexibility exercises.
- Endurance exercises
Any activity that uses the body's large muscles in continuous, rhythmic motions is considered an endurance (aerobic, cardiovascular) exercise. Examples include bicycling, swimming, dancing, and walking. These exercises improve the fitness of your lungs, heart, muscles, and blood vessels. Endurance exercise should be performed 3 to 4 times per week. Your goal is to exercise at your target heart range for 30 minutes per workout.
To get the benefits, you will need to exercise regularly; even 5 to 10 minutes at a time will be helpful.