more mobile and the pain is less,” he notes. “So, walking or anything that gets your body moving actually helps.”
Schildhorn emphasized that he’s not talking about deep squats, but about keeping the body going. Plus, getting outside, getting sunshine and socializing can keep people healthy.
Being inactive can become its own self-defeating loop, Schildhorn say: If you aren’t active, you feel worse, and feeling worse makes it less likely that you’ll exercise.
“People stop working out, they get stiffer because they spend so much time sitting on a chair with a pillow behind them because it feels better. To me, that is the opposite of health,” he shares.
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Which exercises are best if you have arthritis?
U.S. National Health Interview Survey data shows that 71% of respondents got their exercise through walking, 13% from gardening and 7% by lifting weights.
Guglielmo urges anyone with arthritis to walk.
“Walking is an ideal physical activity for adults living with arthritis because it is low-cost, convenient and adaptable to various settings,” she says.
To get the most benefit, however, adults with arthritis should engage in an activity that combines aerobic, muscle-strengthening and balance exercises, according to Guglielmo.
“Any activity is better than none,” she adds. “Evidence-based physical activity programs can support adults with arthritis in getting and staying active by helping them overcome common barriers to physical activity. These programs can even improve their mental and physical health and quality of life.”
Being active can extend the time before a knee or hip replacement is needed.
“What people don’t understand is just how valuable physical activity is,” Schildhorn shares. “It’s good for your immune system, it’s good for your attitude, it won’t wear out the joints faster, and you can cope with the symptoms longer.”
However, if you reach a point where you can’t walk as far as you once could because of the pain, you should consult with your doctor. It may be time for surgery.