Maintaining an Exercise Routine with Inflammatory Arthritis During the Winter
Nobody will blame you for wanting to stay indoors cuddled up on the couch during the cold and dark winter days. However, if you live with an inflammatory arthritis condition such as rheumatoid arthritis, we strongly recommend you fight that urge.
People with inflammatory arthritis are more likely to experience symptom flare-ups during cold weather. This is due to the increase in barometric pressure (atmospheric pressure around us) which can cause tissue to expand and contract, resulting in stiffer, more painful joints.
Maintaining your exercise routine during winter is an excellent way to help prevent symptom flare-ups because regular exercise is vital to preserving joint mobility and increasing energy levels.
Here are a few tips to help you maintain your exercise routine during winter.
Exercise Later in the Day
Joint stiffness is typically worst in the early morning after a night of little or no movement. As a result, early morning workouts can be painful and uncomfortable, and this can make it more difficult to want to exercise.
Additionally, if you take your medication in the morning, working out later will give it a chance to take effect.
Warm Up Before You Go Outside
If you enjoy walking or exercising outdoors, make sure to spend a few minutes warming up before you go outside. Warming up will help loosen your joints and muscles and increase flexibility, minimizing pain and reducing the risk of injury.
For example, you can try marching in place for 4-5 minutes at a comfortable pace. Thereafter, do a gentle stretch of the main muscle groups.
Layer your Outfits
Layering is a smart way to dress when doing winter workouts outdoors because they provide the warmth you need when you start exercising and allow you to remove a few layers once you heat up.
Ideally, your first layer will be of thin synthetic material to help trap your body heat rather than cotton, which will trap moisture. Then you can add a layer of fleece and, finally, a waterproof outer layer.
Wear gloves and warm socks to protect your hands and feet from extreme cold. Additionally, wear earmuffs or a beanie to protect your ears, and consider wearing a neck gaiter to protect your neck and face.
Move Your Exercise Routine Indoors
If the weather is too cold to comfortably exercise outdoors, it’s time to move indoors. Indoor physical activity doesn’t necessarily mean staying at home as you can take a walk in the mall or train in a gym.
If you prefer to stay home, we suggest you research low-impact exercise routines you can perform inside. In addition, you can find low-impact fitness routines you can follow on the internet, many of which are available without a subscription.
Before starting an exercise routine, it’s crucial to speak to your doctor. Ask them to recommend the best exercises for your current condition, and remember to share any improvement or worsening of your systems so they can help you adjust your workouts.
Get Enough Sleep
Fatigue doesn’t only worsen arthritis symptoms. It also makes it more challenging to maintain an exercise routine because you are unlikely to want to exercise when you feel tired. Aim for at least 7-9 hours of restful sleep a night.
The winter weather can pose additional challenges for anyone living with inflammatory arthritis. However, staying active and exercising will help reduce joint pain and inflammation, relieve stress, and help you sleep better.