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Arthritis and Exercise-How to stay fit with arthritic Pain-Knitting with Arthritis

Updated on March 25, 2011

Arthritis and Exercise

Being diagnosed with arthritis can be a life changing experience. You will have so many questions about arthritis symptoms, arthritis treatments, arthritis medication and the effect arthritis will have on your daily living, exercising may be the last thing on your mind.

You will be bombarded with arthritis advice from medical professionals, well meaning friends and existing arthritis sufferers.

When your diagnosis has sunk in and you are ready to get on with your daily life you may start to ask yourself what other areas of your life will arthritis impact on?

A diagnosis of arthritis shouldn't mean you need to give up your hobbies or stop exercising, you may even be inspired to take up a new hobby to suit your lifestyle.

Medical professionals and arthritis specialists will all agree that exercise in moderation is advantageous in staying healthy.

Managing arthritis sensibly can allow you to continue pursuing your hobbies and interests without too much trouble.

It is not unreasonable too expect that you will need to make a few adjustments to suit your arthritis diagnosis but you certainly should be able to live a happy and fulfilling life.

Exercise with Arthritis

Fitness Training  courtesy of
Fitness Training courtesy of

Managing Arthritis and Hobbies

There are a number of general considerations when living with arthritis, these become even more important when discussed in relation to staying active while pursuing your hobbies.

As you will know by now there are many types of arthritis.

Arthritis can be limited to one joint or a whole body experience. Depending on your arthritis symptoms and diagnosis you should read the rest of this article paying particular attention to your individual circumstances.

Arthritis Universal Principles:

  • Plan your activities around your arthritis
  • Listen to your own body when managing arthritis
  • Control your arthritis medication
  • Seek advice from your medical team before doing hobbies
  • Take regular breaks and don't overdo it
  • Embrace arthritis enforced changes in your lifestyle

This article about arthritis and exercise is not an exhaustive list of hobbies that are suitable for people with different types of arthritis. I have chosen activities that are popular around the world, free or reasonably inexpensive to participate in and one's that limit the chances of arthritic joint stress.

Next we will look at a selection of hobbies that can be suitable for arthritis sufferers.


Simple garden   Courtesy of
Simple garden Courtesy of

Gardening with Arthritis

Whether you are a keen gardener wishing to maintain your established garden or a novice wanting to start your own little indoor garden you will have to make changes to suit your condition.

Arthritis comes in many forms and the changes you make will be very personal too you.

Some forms of arthritis effect one joint whilst others can damage multiple joints around your body, pain and fatigue are also factors to consider when gardening or exercising.

Your focus should be on protecting your joints when you suffer with any form of arthritis.

Looking After Your Garden- Protect Your Joints

The best advice you can be given is " Little and Often", don't stretch yourself. Anyone with arthritis will know that you are able to do many things at the time but will pay for it later.

Planning and common sense will help you avoid suffering later in the day, your garden will still be there when you are ready to go back to it.

If you have arthritis in your hands, wrist, fingers, knees or hips you will need to pay special attention to the garden tools and aids you use.

Gripping garden tools puts extra strain on your joints, a good tip is to use tubular sponge grip on the handles. Tubular sponge grip is used to insulate pipes and is available in all good hardware stores.

Carrying can also be a difficult task, if you are carrying small items; spread the wait, use a small trolley or have someone carry for you. Do not carry heavy items!

Bending down, kneeling or sitting can put additional strain on your joints. Use a stool with a supportive back rather than bending down, instead of kneeling down consider planting in raised beds or elevated plant pots. Do not sit for long periods with your back bent; again raise your garden up to an easily accessible level.

Stretching and pruning, buy extension handles for your garden tools.

Digging is best left to someone else as it uses too many joints and so much effort.

Mowing the lawn can be done in moderation, I would advise asking someone else to do it as vibration from your mower can play havoc with painful joints or consider flagging your lawn and raising your garden beds.

Whatever type of garden you have there are many adapted garden tools suitable for people with arthritis on the market, they have been designed to make looking after your garden easier.

Ask for help with your garden, involve other family members in your garden and most of all enjoy it.

Healthy Eating with Arthritis

Healthy Diet and Arthritis  courtesy of wikimedia commons
Healthy Diet and Arthritis courtesy of wikimedia commons

Cooking with Arthritis

You may not think that cooking is a form of exercise, it is and it can be a very beneficial way of exercising your joints if you are an arthritis patient.

If you stop and think for a moment cooking involves quite a bit of exercise including:

  • Going to buy ingredients (walking)
  • Bringing ingredients home (walking, carrying)
  • Preparing ingredients (chopping, washing, carrying)
  • Cooking ingredients (bending, stirring, carrying)
  • Serving food (lifting, walking)

As you can see there is more to cooking a meal than simply putting food on the stove.

All of the above tasks involve movement and joint manipulation, these are ideal light exercises for a person with arthritis.

Cooking with arthritis is made slightly more difficult if you have arthritis of the fingers, hand or wrist. Using the correct kitchen utensils is vitally important too prevent further joint damage and there is a whole host of ergonomically designed kitchen tolls for arthritis sufferers.

Below is a selection of cookbooks for arthritis patients, ergonomically designed kitchen utensils and gadgets designed with arthritis patients in mind.

Walking and arthritis

Healthy walking with arthritis  courtesy of
Healthy walking with arthritis courtesy of

Walking with Arthritis

Walking is one of the best forms of exercise anyone can do, it is free and has so many health benefits.

Regular walking is good for your heart, lungs, muscles and psychological health.

Depending on your arthritis diagnosis walking could be the most effective exercise for you.

If your legs, knees, ankles and feet have arthritic joint damage then special care should be taken when walking. Never overdo it and take regular rest stops. Join a walking club near you, there may even be walking clubs for people with disabilities in your area.

There are a number of walking aids designed for people with arthritic conditions. You can get specially made shoes and sticks from your hospital, you can buy them at your local mobility dealer or here online.

Choosing the right aid will make your walking less painful and at the same time protect your joints 

Computers and Arthritis

Using a computer whether for work or play has become part of daily life.

It may seem strange to add using a computer into an article about exercise but if you think about it you are using your hands to control the mouse, using your back and neck to sit for hours on end and getting up and down for the numerous cups of coffee we all need to stay in front of the screen.

As an arthritis patient you will need to limit the strain on your hands, fingers and wrist by using an ergonomically designed mouse and keyboard.

People with wrist pain benefit from resting their hands on memory foam wrist supports, specially designed ones can be added to a laptop computer.

The right posture is also very important and a well padded chair that offers support to both your back and neck is a must.

Software companies have written programs for people who need to speak to type rather than using hands, they can be expensive but worth it to limit pain.

As with all computer users take regular breaks and move around to prevent stiffness.

Knitting with Arthritis

It seems strange saying "knitting and arthritis" in the same sentence, I guess this is true if the main site of arthritis is in your hands. People suffer the effects of arthritis all over their body so knitting will be an option for many.

If you do suffer with arthritic hands; knitting may still be an option, Doctors and physiotherapist recommend even inflamed joints need exercise and knitting in moderation is one such exercise.

Don't go all out to knit a quilt as this will surely cause you problems, instead do little and often, use light bamboo knitting needles rather than heavy metal ones, use a magnifying glass to see the stitch or for unpicking rather than bending and straining your neck and remember your limitations.

There are a number of knitting tools and inventions available to make your hobby much easier.

Fishing with Arthritis

I am not a fisherman so I would be misleading you if I tried to explain the most popular sport in the world.

Fishing is ideal for people with arthritis as it can be done sitting down, you an buy a fishing pole rather than a rod this saves you from casting out which could cause you pain. Fishing suppliers sell floats that simply hang off the end of the rod and there are numerous seats with support which make sitting for long periods of time much more comfortable.

As fishing is the most popular sport in the world there are plenty of fishing associations for people with disabilities and fishing aids for people with arthritis on the market.

Exercise for people with arthritis

So there we have it, arthritis doesn't mean you have to stop exercising. Hobbies are important to all of us as they help us maintain a balanced life.

Whatever hobby or exercise you choose just plan ahead, take your time, take regular breaks and don't be afraid to ask for help.

This article is part of a series on "Arthritis and Exercise", if you found this one helpful please bookmark me to be informed when the next in the series is published. 

Your views are welcome please comment

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    • EllenMayfield profile image

      Ellen Mayfield 5 years ago from Athens, GA

      This was good. I'm a 20 year old woman with RA and have been quite discouraged lately with how rigorous excersize is affecting my body. I'm trying to find alternatives, these sound great. Thanks!

    • Aiden Roberts profile image

      Aiden Roberts 7 years ago from United Kingdom

      Thanks Lita

      So many times a diagnosis of any arthritic condition can mean changing your lifestyle. I guess the secret is to know you limitations and find things you can do and enjoy.

      I wish you health and happiness, thank you so much for your comment.

    • Lita C. Malicdem profile image

      Lita C. Malicdem 7 years ago from Philippines

      I was diagnosed with an onset osteoarthritis, spurring in my upper bone tracts said it so in my X-ray. Now I'm admonished by my doctor to be careful especially in lifting up heavy objects that will compromise my vertebrate. This hub is very informative. I'm engaging myself in gardening and brisk walking. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Aiden Roberts profile image

      Aiden Roberts 7 years ago from United Kingdom

      Thank you Daniel

      I hope this article does inspire people to carry on or start something new.

      Thanks again.

    • Daniel Carter profile image

      Daniel Carter 7 years ago from Western US

      Very comprehensive, and very nicely presented. Autoimmune diseases are so difficult at any stage, but I think you've given readers valuable ideas to resume hope for a happy, productive life! Welcome to HP! Look forward to more great hubs!