Arthritis affects more than 10 million people in the UK, according to the NHS, and can affect people of all ages. The two main types are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis – osteoarthritis is joint stiffness caused by loss of cartilage between joints, largely down to wear and tear and rheumatoid arthritis is when the body’s immune system targets affected joints. While the condition may make carrying out simple, everyday tasks painful and difficult, it’s important to still keep active and exercise. Regular exercise can improve your range of movement and joint mobility increase muscle strength, reduce stiffness and boost energy.
So when it comes to staying fit with arthritis, there are five things you should remember, say experts at Arthritis Foundation.
When you begin your workout you should start out slow and stead.
The experts advise: “Ramping up slowly not only helps to avoid injury and exhaustion, but it also increases your chances of sticking with your routine.”
Respect your pain
While some discomfort during exercise is normal, you should make sure it’s only minimal.
They warn: “I you experience more discomfort or a sharp feeling, stop. You may need to decrease your time and intensity and slowly build it up. And you can get much of the same benefits from three 10-minute walks as you can from one 30-minute walk.”
Exercising with a friend can help keep you on track with your fitness goals.
They say: “Studies show that, in addition to the social benefits, exercising with others can provide motivation and hep keep you accountable.”
Make any necessary modifications
Modify exercises to meet your specific needs. They explain: “Many exercises can be done while seated as opposed to standing, which can prove helpful on days when you have more pain and/or less energy.
“Equipment modifications could include using a slightly deflated exercise ball to make it more stable to lay on, or wrapping jump ropes, dumbbells or other handles in foam tape, like tennis grip tape, to make them easier and more comfortable to grip.”
Shop for shoes late in the day
When we walk and workout our feet swell, so it’s best to shop for fitness footwear after we’ve been on the go for a while.
They recommend: “Chose shoes with solid ankle support and they should be comfortable immediately and require zero ‘break-in’ time.”
When in doubt, consult a fitness expert
Look for a certified personal trainer who has experience with working with arthritis patients.
“They can help with modifications and create a workout customised yo your needs,” they advise.
Some experts believe taking supplements can also relieve the pain associated with arthritis.