Exercise is considered the single most effective non-drug treatment for reducing joint pain and improving movement in patients with osteoarthritis. Exercise is a key strategy to relieve pain, improve energy, and strengthen muscles, which helps to better support our joints. Beautiful summer weather brings an opportunity to enjoy certain activities we may not be able to enjoy during other times of the year. Summer is a great time to introduce new activities and exercises that may improve osteoarthritis.
The best exercises for arthritis include range of motion exercises, strengthening exercises, and aerobic exercises. If you’ve been searching for activities for arthritis that will take it easy on your joints but still allow you to enjoy the great outdoors, then these recommendations may be for you!
- Lap swimming
- Exercises to avoid with arthritis are those that place a lot of stress on your joints (running, competitive sport activities)
If hitting the gym fits well into your routine and group fitness classes keep you motivated, these physical activities for arthritis may be ones to try. You might even find a class that takes place outside if you’re craving fresh air.
- Martial Arts
- Tai Chi
Staying motivated can be challenging at times, especially if you aren’t feeling at the top of your game. To maintain a consistent, active routine, the following may be helpful motivators:
Good music or a Podcast – Listening to something while exercising can be encouraging and uplifting. It may also pose as a helpful distraction, making the time go by quickly.
Heart rate monitor – Tracking your improvement is a great motivator! Using either a heart rate monitor or a smart phone app can turn your routine into a friendly competition with yourself and will help you see how far you’ve come.
Enlist a buddy – There is nothing more motivating than the accountability from a workout partner. Friends can also make activities much more fun and enjoyable.
Before You Get Started
Speak with a doctor – Everyone’s arthritis symptoms re different, so it is important to start with a conversation with your orthopedic surgeon. They will be able to recommend how often you should be exercising, and which physical activities will be best for you and your needs. In general, it is best to stay as physically active as your health will allow.
Start with a warm-up – Always begin a physical activity with a warm-up that includes stretching all major muscle groups. This will help avoid painful pulls and strains.
Replenish fluids – Bring a water bottle with you to both inside and outside activities. Continue hydrating throughout your day and pay extra attention to the outside temperature. Exercising during the mornings and evenings in the summer can help you beat the heat.
Be mindful of pain – If you begin to experience joint pain from your activities, discontinue the exercises causing you pain right away and speak with your doctor or physical therapist. They may give you suggestions on how to modify your exercises for arthritis or change up your routine.
Incorporating regular physical activity into your routine can be challenging, especially if you are dealing with joint pain and stiffness. Take the first step and make an appointment with your orthopedic surgeon today to help create an exercise for arthritis plan that’s right for you.