Moving about in a “SMART” way can help to lubricate the joints and ease painful symptoms. The key is to participate in joint-friendly physical activity that reduces the risk of injury. Experts at the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) elaborated on the SMART model.
- Start low, go slow
- Modify activity when arthritis symptoms increase, try to stay active
- Activities should be joint friendly
- Recognise safe places and ways to be active
- Talk to a health professional or certified exercise specialist.
People with arthritis may have bad days, where symptoms are flaring up, and the joints feel much more stiff and sore.
On such days, it is still important to move, but you are encouraged to “modify the activity”.
Focus on joint-friendly activities such as: walking, cycling, water aerobics, or dancing.
“These activities have a low risk of injury and do not twist or ‘pound’ the joints too much,” the CDC elaborated.
In terms of “safe” places, attending exercise classes designed for people with arthritis are ideal.
Under the guidance of an expert, you can make sure you are moving your joints in a safe way.
Alternatively, if you are going to take a walk, for example, make sure the path is not dangerous.
For “major health benefits”, the CDC recommend doing at least 150 minutes of moderate activity each week.
The CDC also advises people to perform “muscle-strengthening activities” at least twice weekly.
Muscle-strengthening exercises include lifting weights, working with resistance bands, and yoga.
Daily flexibility exercises can also help to improve stiff joints and increase a person’s range of motion.
With any exercise, it is critical to do warm-ups and cool-downs before and after each session.
Bear in mind that it can take up to eight weeks for your body to become accustomed to another activity level.
For instance, if you are used to doing no exercise, it may take two months to become accustomed to working out daily for 10 minutes.
When to see a doctor
Book a doctor’s appointment if you experience a “sharp, stabbing, and constant” sensation of pain.
Any pain that causes you to limp also needs to be investigated, as well as any pain that does not get any better with rest, medication, or hot or cold packs.