Being active with arthritis

Being active can be especially hard if you’re living with a condition such as arthritis and the symptoms that come with it, such as fatigue and reduced mobility. 

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Here's how you can get started.

  • Choose an exercise type that you'll enjoy or perhaps revisit one that you have enjoyed in the past
  • Strengthening, cardiovascular and mobility exercises have all been shown to be helpful for arthritis, but the type is less important than the enjoyment factor and sticking to it long term
  • There are no exercises that are off limits, at least in principle. Sometimes care needs to be taken and stepping stone exercises might be required to get to a particular activity but be reassured that any exercise will be helpful in the long term

Start off at a lighter intensity and then build up slowly  allowing yourself time to accommodate an increase in intensity

  • Some pain or even a slight increase in pain is ok during and after the exercise but it should settle back to pre-exercise levels in 24 hours, not be too severe, or coincide with protracted swelling, heat or redness of joints
  • It might be appropriate to start your exercise in the pool where the decreased weight bearing will be more comfortable. Running, squats and lunges are all possible and practicing in the pool first will allow some time for your body to get used to the movements
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  • Choosing the right environment for you might require some experimentation. The gym is not the only option. For some exercising with a partner will be motivating, whilst others might find it distracting. Pick your preference but be open to different options 
  • Consider your other health needs. Diet, sleep, limiting smoking and keeping stress as low as possible are all just as important as exercise to manage arthritis symptoms
  • If you get stuck, don't know where to begin, or are struggling with the symptoms, consult a physiotherapist who can complete a comprehensive assessment and give you guidance on how to implement your program.

Active stories

Read about how exercise helped Rod Hunt overcome knee problems, Brian Watters recover from hip surgery, Margaret Cox cope with arthritis and scoliosis and Sheron deal with osteoarthritis and sciatica.

If you’re still not sure where to start, a physiotherapist can assess you and work with you to create a weekly activity plan

You can download this page for future reference.