Physical Activity

Getting active in 5 easy steps

Three women and one man at an exercise class

Staying active is one of the most effective strategies to manage pain and improve wellbeing. A commonly held myth is that one shouldn’t exercise with joint pain and arthritis, but research has shown that exercise can tremendously reduce fatigue and pain-levels.   

The human body isn’t designed to be sedentary. While rest is crucial when navigating arthritis-related flare-ups, regular movement strengthens muscles around the joints, enhances your range of motion and has mood-boosting effects.  

If you have been inactive for a while, getting started can be daunting. Don’t sweat it – we've got you covered. Here are five steps to get you back in the groove: 

1. Understand the basics 

A wide variety of activities can be considered as exercise, including any time you use your muscles to move your body to expend energy and raise your heart rate. So, you may already be doing more than you think.   

Note down the physical activities you do each day or each week by tracking what keeps you moving. From gardening and walking your dog to laundry and cleaning - it all counts. 

Our Physical Activity guide is a great place to begin understanding the basics of exercise.   

2. Explore the link between wellbeing and exercise  

Ever heard the expression “motion is lotion”? There’s truth to it. Movement forces nutrient-rich fluid into your joint cartilage, helping it get when it needs to stay healthy.  

But pay close attention not to push over your limits, avoid over-exertion and consider joint-friendly exercises like walking, biking and swimming.   

You may have gotten accustomed to living with some degree of pain if you live with arthritis. Listen to your body. It is normal to experience some soreness with new physical activity, but if it takes longer than two hours to settle down to your usual pain levels, modify your activity level.  

3. Get in the right mindset  

Exercising doesn’t have to be a chore or competitive. Ask yourself, what activities do you enjoy? Find something convenient and accessible that interests you. If you enjoy doing things solo and like spending time outside, walking in nature makes more sense than joining a yoga class, for example. Alternatively, you could use it to spend more time with a friend or partner. Here’s inspiration and a guide for you to find the right activity.  

4. Set a goal  

Now that you know the basics, spend some time reflecting on why you want to get active. Is it to reduce your sedentary time? Spend more time outdoors? Become more flexible? After identifying your core motivation, set it as a goal. Be specific and realistic. An example could be, “I want to spend more time in nature (why), so I am going to take a walk outside three evenings a week after dinner (what).” 

Don’t forget to be kind to yourself. Behaviour change takes time, and starting with small manageable goals can help you maintain those changes in the long-term.  

5. Get started! 

Congratulations, you’re now ready to go!   

We’ve compiled a list of online courses and exercise routines you can start today, right from the comfort of your home. And if you enjoy the outdoors, consider our tips for Nordic walking or gardening.   

The final and most important step is simply to begin.  You’ve got this! 

This article was created using resources from our Physical Activity Guide and should not be substituted for professional medical advice. Always consult with your healthcare provider before beginning a new exercise regimen.