Top tips for walking with arthritis16 February 2022
Walking is recommended for people with arthritis as it’s low impact, helps to keep the joints flexible, helps bone health and reduces the risk of osteoporosis. If you do experience pain or you’re very stiff afterwards try doing a bit less, factor in more rest and check in with your GP, if you need to.
If you have arthritis, making walking part of your routine can help strengthen the muscles around your joints and help you maintain a healthy weight.
The other benefits to choosing walking to keep active include:
- You can choose the distance and pace which suits you.
- Making movement part of your everyday, especially if you are working at home, is recommended to help ease stiffness and help posture.
- It’s a free activity which can be done pretty much anywhere. Whether that’s around the house, in your garden, a stroll to the local shops or a lap around the local park.
- Being out in nature and getting fresh air has been proven to help boost mindset.
We’ve pulled together tips on how to get started and ways to make walking part of your daily routine.
Every little helps
Aim to start slowly with a manageable walk each day, thinking about what works with your daily routine. For example, moving around the house, walking the kids to school or arranging a walk with a friend.
Once you’ve got used to walking more regularly, you can choose to gradually lengthen your walks or maybe you could walk a few more days each week.
Think about timing. Is first thing in the morning the best time for you or do you prefer a lunchtime walk?
Make your routes interesting and try urban and green space options - depending on what’s most accessible where you are.
Using crutches, walking poles or a stick can help with pain, balance and your posture.
You could try Nordic walking, it's very good exercise for the joints and by using poles you have extra support.
Alternatively, why not join a walking group? There's a range of organisations across the UK offering accessible walking sessions.
- walkingforhealth.org.uk - free short walks in England
- walkni.com - a range of walking groups in Northern Ireland
- pathsforall.org.uk - short volunteer-led walks in Scotland
Track your activity
A good way to help get walking part of your routine is to set yourself goals. For example, a 10 minute walk every other day or a set distance you’d like to achieve each week.
You can track your activity using a pedometer, which calculates the number of steps walked and total distance covered.
If you want to keep an eye on the weather to help you plan any outside routes, take a look at the rain alarm app.
Choosing the right shoes
The best choice of footwear for everyday short walks would be comfortable shoes which give good support. Get advice and find what’s best for you, whether that’s trainers with memory foam insoles or shoes without laces. Read more about footcare and footwear.
For longer walks, boots are best if it’s going to be hilly or muddy, whereas walking shoes are best for relatively flat, dry conditions.
If you need more specialist advice you can speak to a podiatrist or physio about footwear.
What to wear?
The right clothing will depend on how far you are walking, the terrain and weather. It’s always a good idea to carry a waterproof jacket in case the weather changes – walking in the rain can be a miserable experience, especially if you’re unprepared.
To keep warm wear layers that you can easily take off as you warm up and put back on when you cool down.
Try a backpack
If you want to carry a few essentials with you such as a bottle of water, hot drink and your phone. Backpacks are handy as they leave you handsfree and weight can be evenly distributed.
The correct fit is important because they’re carried on the shoulders but are supported by your back, legs and other muscles.
The best bags can be adjusted to suit your shape and the size of your load.
Don’t forget to stretch
By adding a few stretching and strengthening exercises to your routine, this can help ease stiffness and strengthen your leg, back and core muscles. This is beneficial for everyday living, improving balance and walking.
For more inspiration, check out our exercises for healthy joints, there are dedicated sections for the back, knees, hips, feet and ankles.
Find out what's happening in your area
Our local groups are starting to meet in person to provide face-to-face services again.
Enter your postcode in the In Your Area search to find out what's near you.
We’re here whenever you need us.
You might also be interested in...
“I was miserable and I thought you’ve got to start moving Jane!"
Jane tells us how taking the first steps to get active again has helped her to manage life with dementia and arthritis and shares her advice for others.
Ask the expert: I have arthritis, should I exercise?
Dr Benjamin Ellis answers your questions about exercise, including how to start being active, identifying good/bad pain, staying motivated and useful resources.