When it hurts to move your body, it’s hard to think about exercise. However, we know that moderate exercise can improve joint function, flexibility, and mood, which can improve your symptoms of pain. The two main goals of treating arthritis include pain management and increasing your ability to function. Exercise can help you to achieve both.
Contrary to previous ideas, maintaining physical activity is key in managing the progression of arthritis. Although this may seem counterintuitive, maintaining an exercise program retains muscular strength and available joint ranges of motion which may, therefore, prevent stiffness.
Before you start any exercise routine, always check in with your family doctor or primary healthcare provider. When you have the go-ahead to exercise, consider setting goals to help you along the way.
Set Attainable Fitness Goals
Setting attainable “SMART” goals can help you break the big task of starting an exercise regime into more manageable tasks:
Specific – What do you want to do for exercise?
Measurable – How long do you want to exercise for?
Attainable – Is this goal realistic?
Relevant – Is this goal important to me? Am I motivated to achieve it?
Timely – When will I incorporate this into my daily routine?
Maintain a Consistent Fitness Routine
Once you have your goals in place, slow & steady is the best motto. Consistency is key in forming new healthy habits, along with help from your family and friends. Consider working out with your partner, a friend or joining a local group for like-minded people.
Always ensure that you have appropriate footwear for your activity needs. Your footwear choices may enhance your exercise, or inhibit it without you even knowing.
Listen To Your Body
Pain is not gain – always listen to your body and allow for ample rest time when needed. If you have mild pain after exercising a specific joint, scale back the intensity of your exercise and incorporate gentle movements to warm up before exercising. If pain persists, consider altering the exercise routine to work a different area of the body and allow time to rest and recover.
Consult with your physician, physiotherapist or kinesiologist before starting a new exercise program, or if you have any questions regarding your fitness plan. For more information on exercising with arthritis, visit the Canadian Arthritis Society website for additional resources.
For information regarding foot pain associated with arthritis and how custom orthotics & orthotic insoles can help, contact the team of certified Pedorthists at SoleScience today.