Arthritis can be a real pain in the joints at times.  That pain can limit our ability to move comfortably and even make us not want to move.  But we should get moving when we have arthritis because moving and exercise can help to keep pain from starting, reduce stress and even help us lose weight.  Working out can help to keep joints strong and flexible and provide relief for conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and even fibromyalgia. 

According to the Arthritis Foundation, there are a variety of low-impact, joint-friendly and fun ways to work out if you have arthritis.  Here are a few examples of arthritis-friendly activities. 

senior couple playing golfWhen was the last time you played a fun, social sport?  Sports like bocce ball, golf, and shuffleboard, for example, are great activities that help get us moving while taking our mind off of our pain.  These sports help to burn calories and make us stronger.  When we play these sports, we’re naturally squatting, lunging, bending, and moving the body to keep it healthy.  Be mindful of taking a break if you start to hurt after a few holes of golf then get back to the game.  While playing shuffleboard, be mindful of your knee joint position and don’t lunge to deeply.  And with bocce ball, holding and tossing the ball too long can aggravate the hand, wrist, elbow, and shoulder.  Take a break and watch your friends play, then you can play the next game.

When was the last time you took a good walk?  Walking is a great way to relieve arthritis pain, strengthen muscles, and reduce stress, especially when walking outdoors.  If you’re not able to walk outside and you don’t have enough hallway space inside to walk, then walking on a treadmill is a great option.  Treadmill walking can allow you to walk easily at a slow pace and offer handlebars to hold onto for safety.  You can increase your walking speed and even walk up simulated hills by inclining the treadmill.  Be mindful that increasing your incline could put extra stress on your joints. And if you walk outside, walking downhill can put extra stress on your knees.

When was the last time you got in a pool?  Water exercise is fantastic for the body and arthritis relief.  When you walk waist-deep in water, you reduce the bodyweight on your joints by 50 percent.  Doing water aerobics gets your upper body, lower body, and core working.  Usually, water aerobics is done in chest-deep water and it reduces your body weight on your joints by 75 percent.  And getting your feet off the pool bottom and making your body swim works all of your muscle groups and builds aerobic endurance.

If you have arthritis, try to find an activity that will get you excited about moving.  Here’s to your great workout!

Jonathan Souder is the Fitness Director at Manor House, an Acts Retirement-Life Community in Seaford, Delaware. This column appeared in the December 19, 2019 edition of the Seaford Star.