Staying active with arthritis

30 June 2020
Max in his running kit, lady exercising in the garden and a man sat outside with his sports bag.
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Research has shown the benefits of regular exercise for people with arthritis and Musculoskeletal conditions. It can help to ease stiffness and pain, strengthen your bones and joints and boost feelings of wellbeing.

Everybody is different and the key to making exercise a part of your routine is finding an activity which is right for you and that you enjoy.

We know that sometimes your arthritis symptoms can make it difficult to stay active. Energy levels and mood will change day to day which may affect motivation.

Also, in these uncertain times of COVID-19, it’s natural to feel nervous about going outside to exercise as lockdown restrictions are eased across the UK, especially if you’ve been self-isolating or shielding.

Here’s our top tips and advice from experts to help you keep active. Whether you choose to do online Pilates, walk the dog, cycling or P.E with the kids – all are beneficial.

If you have any concerns about exercising, check with your doctor and remember there is no one-size fits all approach.

Build up slowly

Walking is one of the best forms of exercise, as you can do it anywhere and at any time.
Getting outside in the sun can also help you get enough vitamin D which is important for bone health. If you have been inactive for a while, don’t be surprised if you find a walk more difficult than you used to.

You don’t have to tackle everything in one go – instead take little steps and set realistic goals.

Choose what’s right for you

If you’re looking to get into jogging or running you could try Couch to 5K.

Public Health England (PHE) have launched a nine-week Couch to 5K challenge as an accessible way of becoming active while social distancing measures remain in place.

Download the app from the Apple store or Google Play for android devices.

If you want more exercise tips, check out Escape-pain online, this free resource provides exercises to help people living with chronic pain.

“I’m not flexible or fit at all; but there are so many easy yoga sessions to follow on YouTube. You just have to remember with yoga – do what feels comfortable and rewarding for you, your body and your joints!”

Sammy

If you want to get a regular stretching routine into your daily life, take a look at the NHS free workouts like these chair yoga exercises and this Pilates video specifically for people with arthritis.

Get into a regular routine

Making exercise a part of your everyday is a useful way to give structure to your day. Check out our simple exercises to help flexibility and ease pain.

“I usually attend Pilates once a week. So, even though my classes are online now this has brought some normality back into my routine which is really helpful!”

Jasmine

If you’re feeling anxious at the moment, your body will appreciate the exercise, if you’ve not been keeping active and this will help process any excess adrenaline that your body might be producing.

If you're feeling anxious about the easing of lockdown, read Anxiety UK's article on coronaphobia and life after lockdown.

Managing your pain at home

To help you manage your pain, medical experts have come together to produce these self-management resources to give you robust advice and exercises to help support you at home.

These are supported by NHS England and Improvement, The British Orthopaedic Association, The British Society of Rheumatology, The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, Versus Arthritis and the Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance.

The information covers key areas of pain from back. hip to hand pain. You simply click on the relevant body part to get to the full list of resources to help you.

For more inspiration

“Exercise wise, I have been using the app Downdog for quick 7-minute workouts and yoga routines. I would also suggest going back to basics, do regular star jumps, on the spot jogging and lunges.”

Hayley

Check out the We Are Undefeatable website. They have exercise ideas ranging from yoga to dancing in your kitchen.

Take a look at Public Health England’s selection of free 10 minute workouts or try the exercise videos on the NHS Fitness Studio.

Keep in touch

Feeling connected to other people can boost your wellbeing and motivation with exercise.

There are many weekly classes from dance to yoga which have moved online to Zoom from face to face. You can choose what works for you, join the class in real-time and be part of a like-minded community.

Why not sign up with a group of friends or a member of your family as an activity you can enjoy together?

We’re here whenever you need us.

If you’re looking for support, especially during these uncertain times, we’re here for you.

  • If you would like to talk to someone, you can call our free helpline on 0800 5200 520 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm)
  • Chat to COVA, our COVID-19 Virtual Assistant, using the purple icon in the bottom right corner of this page.
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