"It’s about making that first step and saying, ‘I’m going to do something’"

Mel in the gym.

When Mel was first diagnosed with osteoarthritis in her hands and knees, it had a devastating impact. Because of the pain she was in every day, she struggled to do things like open her front door and walk upstairs.

Thanks to regular exercise and a healthy diet, her pain and stiffness have almost disappeared over the course of three years.

Mel is now the most confident she has ever been. Read her story.

Getting started

“It’s about making that first step and saying, ‘I’m going to do something’. It doesn’t have to be anything huge to begin with - it doesn’t need to be painful, boring or unpleasant. It can be baby steps for a little bit, as your body gets used to moving.

If you don’t want to go to the gym, you could walk around your garden, or up and down the street. You can then try to do a little bit more and more each day.”

Eating right for exercise

Mel now goes to the gym a few times a week, and often goes walking. She’s also improved her diet, by cutting out crisps, ready meals, chips, biscuits and fizzy drinks.

Instead, Mel drinks plenty of water and eats a healthier diet, including fresh fruit and vegetables, grilled chicken and wholemeal rice and pasta.

Looking back, Mel said: “When I was first diagnosed, I would get excruciating pain in my knees when walking up stairs.

“I would also struggle to do things like open doors, tie my laces and put the top on a bottle of water.

“Since I’ve started exercising, my hands look and feel so much better. They’re not painful anymore, which means I can use them properly.”

The benefits of exercising with arthritis

For Mel, keeping active is something she has grown to love, and she gets some exercise every day.

“If you don’t do any physical activity, you’re going to hurt more because everything will stiffen up,” she said.

“It can be a vicious circle - if you are in pain, you don’t want to do anything. But then you seize up more, get unfit, the pain becomes worse and you will find it more difficult to start exercising in the first place."

You can still exercise if you have arthritis

“There’s always something you can do. Even if you just walk to the shops at the top of your road, or perhaps the post box, that’s ok. You can then walk a bit further each day.  

“Every journey needs a first step and that first step can lead to good things.” 

Find out more

If you’d like to start exercising or just want some more information, check out our exercise advice. It covers everything, from getting started, how much exercise to do and hints and tips.