How to Exercise with Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a chronic disease that presents as pain and inflammation in the affected joints. Based on these symptoms, your first instinct may be to avoid physical activity. However, staying active is an important part of the treatment plan. Evidence shows that exercise reduces pain, improves movement, and does not accelerate the development of osteoarthritis.

Tip #1 – Set a time
Exercising requires a lot of commitment, especially since it should be recurring and not just a one-time event. Making any changes to your daily routine can be overwhelming so the best way to incorporate frequent exercise is by setting a time. Dedicating a specific time from your schedule to exercise will allow you to prepare physically and mentally in advance and focus on the task.

It is recommended to set aside at least 30 minutes of your day to exercise, which may be done all at once or divided into three 10-minute intervals throughout the day. With osteoarthritis, the pain typically gets worse throughout the day, so exercising in the morning may be more beneficial. Set a time that’s best suited for you.

Tip #2 – Find a friend or a group
Motivation is the key to successfully implementing healthy choices into your lifestyle. Although motivation can be obtained through several different ways, one great source is encouragement from others.

If you need assistance with finding a group, there are resources available for people with osteoarthritis to network and share their stories. For example, there are websites that list arthritis-related events which you can filter by date, location, or type of event. Events may be online or in-person educational sessions from healthcare practitioners and social events such as barbeques. It’s a great way to meet people who are facing the same issues as you and may assist you in finding an exercise partner. Another option is to look for clinics that offer arthritis exercise programs by healthcare practitioners who can educate and assist you in developing your exercise routine.

Tip #3 – Find the exercise that’s right for you
When we think of exercise, we often think of running or walking, but there are many arthritis-friendly options that can add variety to your exercise routine:

Swimming

Golf

Yoga

Cycling

Pilates

Hiking

Zumba

Ballroom

Belly Dancing

Tai Chi

 

 

 

Tip #4 – Recognize abnormal pain
Although it’s common to experience a bit of discomfort during exercise with osteoarthritis, you should be able to recognize abnormal pain which may be a sign to decrease the intensity, take more rests, or re-evaluate the exercise. Consult with your physician if the pain worsens or persists and prior to starting any new exercise programs.

Physical activity is the best non-drug treatment for improving pain and functioning. You, as the patient, have the power to make a difference in the treatment of your osteoarthritis – don’t miss out on it.

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