Tips for Staying Active When You Have Arthritis


Did you know that arthritis impacts more than 50 million American adults, making it the leading cause of disability in the United States? Joint pain and inflammation, which can make carrying out even simple daily tasks a challenge, characterize this degenerative disease.  

At Prima Medicine, with offices in Fairfax and South Riding, Virginia, our care team is dedicated to helping patients with arthritis achieve optimal wellness.

At our state-of-the-art facilities, we create a personalized arthritis treatment plan to meet your specific needs. This may include medications, physical therapy, and corticosteroid injections. 

Our care team also understands the important role of physical activity when it comes to managing this degenerative disease. In fact, if you don’t stay active, you may find moving more challenging in the future, since joints stiffen when they’re not used regularly. 

To give you the information you need, we’ve put together our top tips for staying active when you have arthritis. 

1. Go slow and steady

Exercise may feel like the last thing you want to do when the joint pain associated with arthritis strikes. But moving your joints can help reduce pain and inflammation. The good news is that you don’t have to run a marathon or hike Mt. Everest to reap the benefits of physical activity. 

It’s more important to start slow and maintain regular exercise. For example, you can try incorporating a short walk into your daily routine. Then, as you get used to your walk, you can try adding distance or increasing how frequently you engage in the activity. 

You can also add other physical activities to your routine. Just be sure to choose exercises that are easy on your joints, such as walking, biking, swimming, or water aerobics.  

2. Work to build muscle

Adding strength training to your physical activity plan is another great way of combating arthritis. Your joints are supported by connective tissue, and by strengthening the muscles that help your joints function, you can ease the pressure they experience as you move.  

Consider using your smartphone or tablet to find at-home, on-demand exercises that can help you strengthen the parts of your body most affected by arthritis. There are many apps that offer strength-training exercises for people with arthritis. 

3. Rethink physical activity

While adding regular exercise is great for arthritis, thinking more broadly about physical activity can boost results even faster. If you don’t like structured exercise or find you’re short on time, look for ways to add physical activity in other ways. 

Things like walking a pet, cleaning the house, washing your car, raking leaves, mowing the grass, gardening, and even walking around the house while you chat on your phone are all great ways to increase your fitness to reduce arthritis symptoms.  

4. Find balance

Improving your balance is important when you have arthritis, because the disease increases your risk of falling. Fortunately, you don’t need fancy equipment or special gymnastics classes to find your balance. 

Try standing with your hands on your hips, feet hip-width apart. Then lift one foot up behind the knee to form a right angle. Hold the position for 30 seconds, then switch legs. Over time, increase the number of repetitions or try closing your eyes as your balance improves. 

You can also try adding weights and doing arm lifts or bicep curls while you stand on one foot. And, as your balance continues to improve, you can try engaging in one-legged squats or walking backwards.   

5. Get flexible

Flexibility is essential when it comes to managing arthritis pain and increasing your range of motion. Look for arthritis-friendly flexibility exercises, such as yoga, tai chi, and therapeutic stretching. You can also try using a foam roller. 

Be sure not to force your body to move through a stretch. Mild tension is OK, but stretching shouldn’t cause pain. You can stay in a chair or on the floor if getting up and down from position to position causes pain.

6. Listen to your body

When you have arthritis, it’s important to listen to your body. Some stiffness or muscle soreness during or after exercise is normal. But if your pain persists for more than 30-60 minutes, if you have joint inflammation, or if you’re experiencing unusual muscle fatigue, stop exercising and take a rest day.

It’s also important not to overdo physical activity when you have arthritis. Too much repetitive stress could trigger a flare-up of arthritis symptoms and even make joint damage worse. Be sure to make increases incrementally and gradually to help prevent issues from developing.  

Do you want to learn more about staying active when you have arthritis? Get customized recommendations by booking an appointment online or over the phone with Prima Medicine today.

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