One of the most important factors in getting your arthritis symptoms under control is to ensure consistency. With exercise and keeping active, this is especially the case. You may have heard the phrase ‘use it or lose it’, to warn of the dangers of not keeping your joints mobile, as stiff joints actually become even stiffer when inactive.
Anyone suffering from arthritis will know how tempting it can be to skip exercise, especially when suffering from a flare-up. It is easy to tell yourself ‘I’ll do extra next time’ or ‘it is too painful today’. Of course, balancing exercise with adequate rest is key, but if you set your activity goals in advance, it helps hold you to account to meet your personal targets.
Aim to plan your activity goals weekly and in advance, ideally on a Sunday evening, so that you have a forward-looking view of your week ahead. When you are making your schedule keep the following tips in mind:
A little bit, every day
For joints affected by arthritis, it is very important that they are not overloaded. Rather than doing an intense, strenuous exercises a few times each week, meet your quota by doing a little bit, every single day.
The good thing about light activity is that you can incorporate it into pretty much any daily routine, such as a gentle walk during a 15-minute break, or a simple yoga flow when you wake up.
On the days that you are struggling to even get out of bed in the morning, exercise will feel like that last thing you want to do. If you plan your activities around the things you genuinely enjoy doing, this not only makes it feel like less of a chore, but it might also brighten these otherwise hard days.
If you have already had to give up some hobbies as a result of your arthritis, talk to your GP or an occupational therapist to see how you can make adjustments to reincorporate them into your routine.
Mix it up
Routine is important, but it can quickly become mundane if you don’t make an active effort to ensure that there is some variety. Opt for a mixture of indoor and outdoor activities, and try to strike a balance between things you can do with friends, and things you might prefer doing alone.
Last but not least, aim to try something completely new at least once a month to help you remember that your arthritis does not define you, and you are still continuously growing and learning!