Motivation, tips and tricks for exercising with arthritis

Exercise and physical activity are among the most important things you can do to manage your arthritis. Regular exercise can reduce pain, prevent your symptoms from worsening and improve your everyday function. Exercise can also help you feel more positive and get a good night’s sleep.

But at times motivation to exercise can be difficult, especially if you’re aching all over.

Here are some motivational tips and tricks that have helped others living with arthritis:

  • List why you should exercise versus why you want Take a piece of paper and make two columns. In one column list all the reasons you should exercise and in the other all the reasons you want to exercise. Ideally the ‘want’ column will be more emotionally connected. Examples may be:
    I want to exercise to be able to play with my children or grandchildren
    I want to exercise so that I don’t end up in a wheelchair when I am older
    I want to exercise because it makes me feel good about myself afterwardsKeep this list handy and refer to it regularly to remind yourself of your WHY.
  • Be flexible with your exercise routine. Some days will be better than others. Know what you can do and have a PLAN B on the days when you are sore.
  • Set realistic goals and review them according to how circumstances change for you. It doesn’t matter if they’re very simple to start with. Gaining a sense of achievement, no matter how small, will keep you motivated to continue. Keep a visible record of these exercise goals and achievements.
  • Reward yourself when you hit a goal or target.
  • Run a movie in your mind seeing yourself exercising as you plan to and then conjure up the feeling of satisfaction you will feel and the positive effects on your body when you have done it. You could add a personal mantra like “I’ll feel great when I have done this” or “I always feel better when I exercise” 
  • Start short. Make a deal with yourself that you only have to do a short amount (say 5-10 minutes) and then after this time ask yourself if you can do more…chances are that you will have warmed up sufficiently to go on for longer.
  • Move to music. Distract yourself by playing some motivating music that inspires you to want to move.
  • Lay out your exercise clothes in clear view so you get into it in the morning without having to hunt it out. Once you are dressed to workout you may as well workout!
  • Make a date. Just as you would for any appointment or meeting, diarise your exercise and only forgo it under extreme circumstances.
  • ‘Phone a friend’ Speaking to or exchanging texts with someone who supports you is often the little nudge you need when it is tough to get going.
  • Embrace social media. Join a Facebook page with others that understand your situation. Knowing that others living with arthritis can and have overcome the same issues you have is very powerful in helping you stay connected and motivated.

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