Getting Active

Becoming or staying physically active is a key part of managing your arthritis. However, the pain, stiffness and fatigue common to many forms of arthritis make regular physical activity a challenge. With proper advice and support from your health professional team, you can find a physical activity plan that works for you.

What are the benefits of getting active?

Getting active can benefit you in many ways including:

  • Less pain and stiffness
  • Better flexibility
  • Better muscle strength
  • Easier day-to-day function, such as going up and down stairs, and running errands
  • Improved sleep and more energy
  • Weight management
  • Greater sense of well-being
  • Regular physical activity can also help to reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and osteoporosis (poor bone health) .

What is physical activity?

Physical activity is any movement that works your muscles and uses more energy than you use when you are resting.

You are active when you engage in paid and unpaid work, study and leisure activities. Walking, swimming, yoga, golf, gardening and housework are all examples of physical activity.

Research also shows that reducing the amount of time you spend being sedentary (e.g., sitting, watching tv) throughout the day can also have important health benefits.

What is exercise?

Exercise is planned and structured physical activity.

Taking a fitness class or playing on a sports team are examples of exercise. The best forms of exercise are those that can be done in a safe manner, have little risk of injury and place little stress on joints affected by arthritis, and are fun.

What is therapeutic exercise?

Therapeutic exercise is prescribed by a health professional to help joints or body parts affected by arthritis. You may benefit from a therapeutic exercise program if you:

  • Have been inactive for more than 6 months
  • Have restricted joint motion or muscle strength
  • Have joint pain or swelling
  • Have poor balance or had a recent fall
  • Are recovering from surgery such as a joint replacement

How much physical activity do I need?

Canadian 24 hour Movement Guidelines suggest adults and older adults do 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a week, in periods of 10 minutes or more. Spread the activity throughout the day if you have a busy schedule.

It is also helpful to add muscle and bone strengthening activities using major muscle groups, at least two days per week. If you have any questions about becoming active please talk to your doctor, physiotherapist or other member of your health professional team.