If you’ve had arthritis a while, the chances are that someone (or perhaps many people) have reminded you of the importance of exercise for managing arthritis. The medical professionals are right about that – exercise is a helpful tool for pain management.

In fact, after much trial and error, I can say that light exercise has reduced my pain considerably compared to what it was before I started. Yet while exercise may be helpful, it’s not always practical.

I’m at an age where I’m considered by the world to be too young to have arthritis, so it’s frustrating being constantly too tired to do much. I’ve been encouraged to join an aqua aerobics group although I haven’t been able to attend as I’m at university at those times. How about a brisk walk around the block? Sorry, I don’t like to walk by myself after dark.

Besides, I have a family. Juggling everything to fit in those extra 20 minutes of cardio is quite difficult. So I have put together this list of DIY exercise tips and I hope you find them helpful.

For beginner exercise

Exercise can come in many shapes or forms and as a young person with arthritis, you can get exercise by simply doing the activities that many other people take for granted.

  1. Wash your hair and shave your legs in the same shower

The mums I know can understand why this is difficult. By the time you’ve finished, you’re exhausted. Well done – you’ve earned a nap.

  1. Do the grocery shopping

It’s a challenge – getting in and out of the car, racing around the store, carrying all those heavy bags to the car and hauling them into the house. Bonus exercise points if you have to carry the groceries to the second floor of your home. Again, you’re exhausted. Pat on the back, you’ve earned another nap.

  1. Washing clothes

The washing pile in our house is called Mt Washmore for good reason – it’s huge. Wash, hang, bring back in, fold, repeat. It takes around 20 minutes, but it’s still tiring.

  1. Vacuuming

I’m pretty sure that this needs no explanation. Rheumatoid arthritis and vacuuming don’t mix. Afterwards you feel like you’ve run a marathon. Nap-time!

  1. Dropping the kids at school

Getting the kids organised, fed, and into the car each morning is a mission! Especially if you need to drop them off at two different locations, twice a day. Don’t feel guilty if you need a nap, you’ve earned it.

Sarah S: The ‘you’re too young to have arthritis’ guide to exercise

  1. Do the dishes

If you’re anything like me, doing the dishes is a sole charge occupation for you. Breakfast dishes can take aeons. If you have teenagers you’ll also spend time rummaging through messy bedrooms looking for errant dishes, cups and utensils. Needless to say, the headless chicken exercise routine is exhausting. Pat on the back, you’ve earned a nap.


For advanced exercise

  1. The ‘hurry the landlord is coming’ exercise routine

This exercise involves all of the aforementioned routines bundled into one frenzied time-constrained sequence. Add in mopping the floors and you’ll be feeling that heart pumping in no time.

  1. The ‘in-laws are coming to dinner’ exercise routine

Combine and blend all of the aforementioned routines, and then add a fast-paced routine of cooking a balanced, healthy and yet delicious meal. Phew!

  1. Take the kids on an outing

This is a pretty advanced routine. It inevitably involves going to a zoo or park and a whole day of walking and occasionally running after the kids if they stray too far. Feel free to use passers-by to help catch the children if you are still at an intermediate phase of exercise. This add-on modification to the routine may save you some exhaustion.

And there you have it folks, the complete ‘you’re too young to have arthritis’ guide to exercise. To finish, just remember that you’re not alone in this and that there’s more to arthritis than the pain. Take it one step at a time.