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Physical Activity: The Arthritis Pain Reliever



Did you know that physical activity can be used as a way to manage arthritis pain and increase function?

Regular Moderate Physical Activity Can Help:

  • Reduce pain, fatigue and stiffness  AND  increase energy ,  mood and quality of life
  • Manage other chronic conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, heart disease and obesity

What type of physical activity?

  • Activities that are easy on the joints and consist of gentle range of motion movements  (also known as low impact aerobics ): walking, cycling, swimming, gardening, water aerobics, group exercise classes and dancing
  • Activities that strengthen muscles:  like calisthenics, weight training and working with resistance bands on 2 or more days per week
  • Balance exercises such as walking backwards, standing on one foot and tai chi

How often:

  • 30 minutes a day,  at least five days per week
    • Activity can be broken down into small amounts, at least 10 minutes at a time during the day
    • Most people notice a difference in  4-6 weeks

How to Start:

  • Any activity is better than none
  • Start low and go slow: If you are inactive, you should start with a small amount of activity for example 3-5 minutes 2 times per day, adding in small amounts to allow your body to adjust to the new level before adding more activity
  • Do activities that are joint friendly: avoid activities that will require you to twist or pound your joints too much
  • Recognize Safe Places to be active: You can attend local group classes designed for people with arthritis.  For more information regarding classes near you, please call 1-866-899-3663
  • Talk with your Healthcare Provider: they  can help you determine the right amount and type of exercise for you

If You Have Pain When You Exercise:

  • Modify your exercise by reducing the number of days per week or how long you do it until the pain eases
  • Change the activity to one with less impact on the joints such as switch from walking to water aerobics
  • Do proper warm up and cool down before and after exercise
  • Exercise at a comfortable pace – you should be able to carry on a conversation but not sing
  • Make sure you have good fitting comfortable shoes

See Your Doctor if:

  • Pain is sharp, stabbing and constant
  • Pain causes you to limp
  • Pain last more than 2 hours after exercise or gets worse at night
  • Pain is not relieved by rest, medication or hot/cold packs
  • Large increases in swelling or your joint feels hot or is red