Staying Fit with Arthritis
Studies show an engaged patient is a healthier patient. Staying fit and focused on your health and wellness, and remaining accountable for it, is one of the most important things to managing your arthritis. Our experts share their experiences and best insights.
- Pace yourself. It’s especially important if you’re just starting to workout. Ramping up slowly not only helps to avoid injury and exhaustion, but it also increases your chances of sticking with your routine.
- Respect your pain. Some discomfort is normal when exercising, but it should be minimal – about a 2 on a scale of 1 to 10. If you experience more discomfort or a sharp feeling, stop. You may need to do decrease your time and intensity and slowly build it up. And you can get much of the same benefits from three 10-minute walks as you can from one 30-minute walk.
- Buddy up. Working out with a friend can help keep you on track with your fitness goals. Studies show that, in addition to the social benefits, exercising with others can provide motivation and help keep you accountable.
- Make any necessary modifications. Modify moves, and if possible, equipment to meet your specific needs. For example, many exercises can be done while seated as opposed to standing, which can prove helpful on days when you have more pain and/or less energy. Equipment modifications could include using a slightly deflated exercise ball to make it more stable to lay on, or wrapping jump ropes, dumbbells or other handles in foam tape, like tennis grip tape, to make them easier and more comfortable to grip.
- Shop for shoes late in the day. Our feet swell as we walk and workout, so it’s best to shop for fitness footwear after we’ve on the go for a while. Choose shoes with solid ankle support and they should be comfortable immediately and require zero “break-in” time.
- When in doubt, consult a fitness expert. But not just any expert. Look for a physical therapist or certified personal trainer who has had experience working with others who have arthritis. They can help with modifications and create a workout customized to your needs.