Getting sufficient exercise and maintaining a healthy weight are important parts of living a healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, those who suffer from arthritis pain often have trouble staying active. Losing weight reduces the strain on arthritic joints, but joint pain makes it difficult to lose weight by burning calories. Developing a weight loss plan that incorporates exercise is still possible if you have arthritis, though higher-impact activities should be avoided on days when you experience joint pain or stiffness.
Keep track of what you eat and approximately how much you eat at a time to develop an estimate of your daily caloric intake. Reduce your portion sizes and choose lower-calorie alternative foods to reduce the number of calories you eat each day.
Warm up by performing light aerobic exercise such as walking at a moderate to brisk pace for 10 to 15 minutes. Warming up not only increases your heart rate to prepare you for your main exercise routine, but also increases the temperature of your muscles and connective tissue -- which in turn increases flexibility.
Perform low-impact aerobic exercises such as working on an elliptical machine or aqua aerobics, starting slowly and gradually increasing your speed as your exercise routine progresses. The gradual increase allows your joints to become more flexible over the course of the routine instead of having to perform all exercises at full speed immediately.
Perform resistance-based exercises using resistance bands, strap-on weights or other resistance tools that don't require strong grips if your arthritis affects your grip strength and finger flexibility. Avoid using fast or jerky repetitions, because these place excessive stress on the joints.
Cool down by walking or performing other light exercise until your breathing and heart rate slow to approximately the same rate as they were before you started exercising. Do gentle stretches after your exercise routine; this can increase overall flexibility as well.
Try to perform at least some form of exercise every day or every other day, and maintain your lower-calorie diet. If pain prevents you from exercising, the reduction in your daily caloric intake will still help your body to burn calories so you will still continue to lose weight.
- According to the American College of Sports Medicine, performing 30 to 60 minutes of aerobic exercise five days per week and resistance training two days per week decreases joint pain and stiffness while improving or maintaining joint range of motion. This can reduce the problems associated with arthritis, making it easier to exercise and maintain your weight over time.
- It takes a caloric deficit of 3,500 calories to lose 1 pound of fat. If you eliminate only 500 calories per day through dietary changes and exercise, then you can lose 1 pound per week.