Osteoarthritis Exercise Tips So You Can Move Pain-Free

This post is full of osteoarthritis exercise tips and is sponsored by the good folks at Sleep Number. As always, all thoughts are my own.

May is Arthritis Awareness month, but osteoarthritis affects millions of adults every day. If you’re one of them, the very things recommended to reduce arthritis pain may feel impossible. But take heart! These osteoarthritis exercise tips can help.

Three things are imperative to improve your life with arthritis: sleep, nutrition, and exercise. Some simple changes can make a big difference in how you feel.

osteoarthritis exercise tips Start in the Kitchen

Before you dive into exercises at the gym, your heavy lifting should be done in the kitchen. There are many foods that can cause inflammation, but there are also delicious ways to reduce your inflammation at every meal! Here’s a quick tip list to reduce foods that turn inflammation on and increase those that turn if off.

Foods that turn inflammation on:

  • Sugar
  • Gluten
  • Wheat
  • Dairy

Foods that turn inflammation off:

  • Omega 3 fats/fish oil
  • Salmon
  • Berries
  • Cacao
  • Curcumin (Turmeric)
  • Cinnamon
  • Cherries
  • Coconut

Soothe Joints with Sleep

There are many reasons to make sleep a priority if you live with arthritis.

  • Lack of sleep increases pain.
  • A lack of sleep also increases your chance of developing other chronic diseases.
  • Sleep deprivation can set anyone up for mood disorders and you’re more vulnerable if you have chronic pain.
  • Too little sleep can lead to poor food choices that increase your inflammation levels.

If you struggle to get a good night’s sleep, there are a handful of tips and tricks that can help. Even small amounts of physical activity enhance sleep quality. As your sleep improves, you can increase the exercise you do as you gain strength and endurance, all while recovering during REM sleep to recharge, repair and refresh your body. Exercise will positively influence your life with arthritis. If your sleep is not leaving you rested, start with small increases in activity and make sleep, not the exercise, your priority. Once you’re feeling more rested, and in potentially less pain, you can shift your focus to more movement.

By exercising in a way that helps you sleep better, you’ll make better health decisions all day.

Sleep on It

Having a mattress that fully supports and continually adjusts to you makes all the difference in the world. Sleep Number has designed a mattress that contours to your neck, shoulders, back and hips – all the hot spots for joint pain. The result is proper spinal alignment and a body that feels good in the morning. If you have never laid on a Sleep Number bed, you seriously need to visit a store!

I take my sleep seriously. I went a step beyond a great mattress by adding temperature control with a DualTemp layer. I can make my bed 35% warmer or cooler any time I want. Cold winter nights don’t leave me stiff , and warm (inflamed joints, or hormones!, etc.) don’t keep me from getting a good night’s rest. When you wake up refreshed, you’ll feel more ready for exercise. So where do you start?

osteoarthritis exercise tips

Osteoarthritis Exercise Tips

These exercises are easy on joints and a perfect place to begin:

  • Water exercise (in warm water pools >83 F – 88 F)
  • Easy stretching (in a warmer room) or gentle yoga
  • Walking
  • Biking or indoor spinning
  • Weight lifting
  • Pilates exercises

Vary any activity you do. If you swim, for instance, mix up the types of strokes you use. This reduces the amount of repetitive stress to the joints involved in activity. If you usually walk try biking or an elliptical on alternate days. Pilates provides an excellent example of doing a variety of exercises. In most instances, no one exercise is done more than 10 repetitions.

Weight Training Tips

Weight training strengthens the muscles surrounding joints and removes stress from the joint itself. The guidelines for you are different than for those who don’t have joint pain, however.

Follow these suggestions:

  • Begin strength training with light weights and about 20 repetitions. You don’t want to stress the joint with a heavy weight. You also don’t want to wear the joint out with too light a weight.
  • With arthritis, always remember to stop before you feel you need to. You can gain more data about how that workout felt in the 72 hours that follow your exercise. Awareness you used the muscles is OK, but pain in the joints is not.
  • Grip can be a problem when you have arthritis. If so, try Pilates and water exercise for your initial resistance training. Focus on the exercises you can do. Seek a trainer versed in working with arthritis who can find you ways you can hold a weight without having to grip with your hands. Weight gloves may help increase your ability to hold a weight, too.

Follow these osteoarthritis exercise tips and progress slowly and safely. You’ll feel, and sleep, better.

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