Cold winter weather is our cue to crank the fire, pour the wine, and curl up on the couch with a great movie, right?! Well, not really! Unfortunately for those of us with arthritis, achy and stiff joints go into high gear during winter. Although we may feel like curing up and hibernating until spring, the best way to manage arthritis is to keep moving! Here are a few great ideas to stay active and keep the terrible achy stiffness away:
1. Bundle up and walk/run outside.
A winter walk is not only good for the body, but good for the soul! Be sure to dress for the weather, stay off icy surfaces, and hydrate to ensure a safe and beneficial workout. You will also enjoy the bonus of burning more calories with winter walks as our bodies work harder to keep our body temperature warm! Choose layered clothing that can be removed as you warm up, and be sure to choose the warmer part of the day for a comfortable, brisk walk/run
. 2. Walk around a shopping mall or other indoor space
When the weather is either too cold, too windy, or too icy, choose an indoor space to do your walking. This is a great way to stay active, warm up those joints, and maybe get some shopping in too!
3. Hit the Gym
Going to the gym is a great way to change up your routine and keep your body moving. Using a treadmill, a stationary bike, or the elliptical are all excellent ways to loosen joints without over stressing them. If your gym has a pool, swimming is an even better option to exercise your body, burn calories, and strengthen muscles without unwanted joint stress. If you are new to the gym, reach out to a personal trainer for guidance on how to exercise safely and effectively.
4. Exercise at home
Since the onset of the pandemic, exercising at home has taken on a whole new meaning. With zoom classes of every type of workout, exercise at home is a very effective way to keep moving. The key is to make an appointment for yourself and stick to it, as if you are going to the gym! Choose a program that you enjoy, whether it be for the music, the trainer of choice, or the type of activity, and commit to at least 20-30 minutes per day. Avoid high impact and high strength training programs that could aggravate your arthritis. Yoga, Pilates, Dance, Tai Chi, and other low impact exercise routines are wonderful and fun.
Don’t let the winter months slow you down! Maintaining your activity will not only decrease your arthritis pain and stiffness this winter, but will also keep your winter weight in check and improve your overall mood and energy. This year when spring rolls around you will be fit and ready to enjoy the beautiful outdoor seasons!
If you are concerned about starting a new exercise program with arthritis, feel free to reach out to your physical therapist for guidance. Most are available virtually and in person, and will be happy to help you start your winter journey to increased activity and better health!