Tips for keeping active if you have joint pain
(NC) – Regular physical activity is even more important than usual if you have joint pain or arthritis. A mixture of strength, flexibility and endurance exercises helps build stamina, strengthen muscles (which eases stress on joints) and keep joints flexible. But at the same time, people with joint pain or arthritis do face a few additional obstacles when it comes to starting an active routine; symptoms like pain and fatigue can be difficult to overcome. Many people also worry that physical activity can damage their joints. The Arthritis Society has some advice to help you become and remain active while living with joint pain or arthritis.
Keep it low-impact. One of the keys to being active with joint pain or arthritis is choosing activities that are not too strenuous on your joints. Try to avoid activities that involve hopping, running, and sudden stops and turns, as these activities can increase joint pain. Consider dancing, walking, swimming, aquafit, Tai-Chi or cycling because these reduce the impact on your joints.
Start slowly. If becoming active seems too difficult, give yourself one task each day that requires you to move more. This could mean walking to the store instead of driving, getting off transit a few stops early or visiting with a colleague at work rather than sending an email. By being creative, you can slowly build up activity levels.
Include rest breaks.You’ll need to plan for and give yourself rest breaks during the day to compensate for increased activity. Balancing exercise and rest is critical to your whole exercise program.
Look long term. When it comes to exercise, more is not necessarily better. “Slow and steady, consistently, without fail” should be your motto. The sensible strategy is to set your sights on long-term gains in flexibility, strength and endurance.
Make sure it’s okay. If you haven’t been active in a while, speak with your health-care provider before starting a new routine. They can provide advice to ensure you are on the right track.
More information about ways to be active with joint pain is available on the Arthritis Information Line 1.800.321.1433 or online at www.arthritis.ca .
Photo ©iStockphoto.com/ Carme Balcells