Reclaim Your Passion

Stop feeling bored because arthritis has “stolen” your favorite activity.


Achy joints can put a damper on your favorite pastimes. And giving up these activities can leave you feeling disengaged and bored.

But don’t blame it on a dull environment. A study by John Eastwood, PhD, a professor and psychologist at York University in Toronto, Canada, found that participants who lost touch with their emotions were more prone to boredom. Eastwood says emotional detachment breeds boredom because a person “loses compass points that steer us toward satisfying activity.”

Acknowledge your feelings and grieve your loss, says Eastwood. “Just don’t get stuck there.”

To get unstuck, find a comparable activity with similar underlying appeal. If you bowled, for example, on a deeper level you may actually crave the social connection.

Arthritis-induced ankle pain lead Gail Kershner Riggs, a retired faculty member in rheumatology and geriatrics at the Arizona Arthritis Center in Tucson, to give up gourmet cooking. But she preserves the inner joy of her hobby by hosting dinner parties: Friends bring the entrees while she fills in with side dishes and sets a beautiful table. “I still get to experience a delicious meal with friends,” says Riggs.

Consider re-engaging in new pursuits to satisfy your inner urges.

Passion: Camaraderie and competition
Former activity: Bowling, tennis, kickball, golf
New pursuit: Game night  Invite friends over for a weekly game of Nintendo Wii tennis, golf, baseball or boxing. If you don’t have a Wii, hold backgammon, Scrabble, chess or bridge tournaments.

Passion: Creative expression
Former activity: Drawing, pottery, sculpture, woodworking
New pursuit: Art appreciation Visit museums and galleries to study the masterpieces of favorite painters. Volunteer at a local art fair or support the work of a local budding artist.

Passion: Water sports
Former activity: Water-skiing, kite-surfing, white-water rafting
New pursuit: Deep-water running Strap on a flotation device and jump into the pool. It’s non-impact and you’ll still be getting a cardio and strength workout. Or paddle on smooth water in a lightweight kayak, which is easy to maneuver and spares lower joints.

Passion: Communing with nature
Former activity: Gardening
New pursuit: Sponsor a school or community garden. Volunteer at an arboretum or botanical garden. Or broaden your knowledge by becoming a master gardener through your state or county extension service.

Passion: Outdoor adventure
Former activity: Hiking, rock-climbing, skiing
New pursuit: Drive to short, accessible paths to waterfalls, mountain views and scenic canyons. In a few steps you can immerse yourself in the natural world. Alternatively, you could rent a fully-equipped camper and stay overnight in state or national park.

Passion: Diverse cultures
Former activity: Globe-trotting
New pursuit: Travel vicariously with Couch Surfers (, a worldwide network that lets you host visitors from around the world (and vice versa). You’ll learn about the world’s far-flung places from people who live there.

The Arthritis Foundation is the leading organization 
providing support and funding research to improve the 
lives of individuals with arthritis. You can help!