Aug 16, 2019

Five Common Exercise Hurdles with Arthritis and How to Overcome Them

Exercise plays a key role in managing arthritis symptoms. Unfortunately, starting and maintaining an exercise program when you have arthritis isn’t that simple. Here are five ideas to help you overcome those common exercise hurdles.


If pain is holding you back from being active, take a nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory over-the-counter pain reliever before you exercise. Use a hot pack or pain-relieving cream before your workout to soothe joints and prepare them for activity. Apply ice to your joints for up to 20 minutes as needed after exercising, especially with an activity that can cause swelling. If the pain is accompanied by swelling, redness and/or heat, plan to take it easy. It is, understandably, hard to get motivated when you’re hurting, but remember that mild activity can actually help ease the ache.

Lack of time.

Between doctors’ appointments, work, errands, and other commitments, you probably have little time for a trip to the gym. Luckily, studies show that you don’t need a lot of time. Dedicate just 20-30 minutes a day to physical activity. Whether it’s a quick walk around your neighborhood or a short swim in the pool, just a small amount of time will help. If even 20-30 minutes a day seems impossible, break it up and add some extra activity into your day while you’re out. Park further away from the door when you go shopping, or take the stairs instead of the elevator.

Too tired.

Allocate half the time to your usual physical activity if you find yourself running low on energy. If you’re still fatigued, give yourself a break. However, while it may seem contradictory, some light exercise can actually help relieve that fatigue and keep you moving.

No need to lose weight.

There’s more to exercising than simply losing weight, especially if you have arthritis. Physical activity has many physiological and psychological benefits, some of which include decreased pain and increased strength, mobility, and better fitness for an improved quality of life. According to the Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center, exercise can also help reduce depression and anxiety in people with arthritis, improve mood, and promote relaxation.

Lack of money.

You don’t have to join a gym or purchase fancy equipment to get a good workout. There are many inexpensive or even free ways to get active. All you need is a little creativity and motivation! Walking is free, easy, and a great activity for arthritis patients. The library offers free videos for rent. Many community parks now have built-in exercise centers that are perfect for a quick workout. If yours doesn’t, create your own by doing some wall sits, tricep dips from a nearby bench, push-ups, or crunches. Only perform exercises approved by your doctor first.

Inclement weather.

Avoid the winter cold or chilly rain showers by taking your walk inside. Think malls, gyms, long corridors, or video walking. Research places near you that have an indoor track or even a heated pool where you can get in your daily dose of exercise.

Boredom and unmotivated.

If your routine is getting stale and you can feel boredom creeping in, it’s definitely time to spice things up. Look for a buddy; it’s easier to stay motivated when you have people keeping you accountable. Or, find a fresh place for your walks with new scenery you haven’t yet memorized. If you’re still finding it hard to stay motivated, it may be time to give yourself some healthy rewards, like new music or workout gear to help inspire you.

Don’t let achy and stiff joints hold you back from living your best life possible. For more monthly tips on staying active with arthritis, keep following Carolina Arthritis! If you have any questions about physical activity, please call us today, and make sure you talk with a doctor before beginning any new programs.