Arthritis can feel worse in cold weather – best exercises to ease painful joints

This Morning: Dr Ellis on how exercise can help arthritis

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Dr Fiona Chikusu hypothesis that more people experience arthritis symptoms during winter as they’re less active than during the warmer months. Wanting to avoid a fall is a valid reason for not wanting to jog outside right now. “The weather might put you off doing long outdoor walks but there are many indoor options for low-impact, weight-bearing exercises,” said Dr Chikusu. One such example is yoga – there are online classes you can join and YouTube instructor videos to learn from.

Another technique to abate painful arthritis symptoms includes stretching.

This helps to keep the “joint moving properly” and to “ease aches and pains”.

“Strengthening exercises help you to strengthen your muscles so they can support your joints,” explained Dr Chikusu.

She added: “You may want to try pilates to help strengthen muscles and improve posture.”

Another low-impact exercise worth considering is t’ai chi that can be done indoors.

The charity Versus Arthritis said: “Exercise is one of the best things you can do to improve your symptoms of arthritis.”

Ideally, it’s recommended for everybody to do at least 30 minutes of exercise that makes you short of breath five times per week.

It may be helpful to break up the 30-minute daily exercise goal into three 10-minute segments.

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People with arthritis are advised to “start gently and gradually increase the light of time you’re exercising”.

During exercise, if you feel a sudden to severe pain in your muscles or joints, you should stop.

If you’ve accidentally overdone any form of exercise, and joints have become hot or swollen, apply cold therapy.

To do this, apply an ice pack – or a pack of frozen peas – covered in a damp towel on the affected area for up to 15 minutes.

Versus Arthritis has dedicated sections on its website to show you which exercises are best for certain body parts.

For instance, it has exercises tailored for feet and ankles, the hip, knee and wrist.

To illustrate, any pain felt in the toes, feet or ankles would benefit from a “achilles tendon and plantar fascia stretch”.

This involves sitting on the floor, looping a towel around the ball of the foot and pulling the toes towards the body.

Holding the knee straight, hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat it three times on each foot.

Do remember to drink water while you’re exercising and to make sure you have plenty of space around you.

The last thing you want to do is to bang body parts into any furniture around you.

If you have any concerns about starting a new exercise programme, do speak to your GP first.

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