Get Set …

Now that you’re ready to get going, set a plan you can stick with. Here are some strategies that will help bring out your inner exercise enthusiast.

Get an exercise buddy. “Ask a friend or significant other to join you. Exercise feels less like exercise when it’s a social event,” says Bryant. You're also more likely to stick with your commitment – to exercise and to your partner.

Reward yourself. Research shows that when people are rewarded for "good behavior" – including exercise – they feel better about it and are more likely to repeat it. “Instead of rewarding yourself with food, do something that builds on your new healthy habits. For example, book a massage or a pedicure, [or go] window shopping at the mall with a friend,” says Stiskal.

Commit to the cause. Make physical activity a non-negotiable part of your day. “Schedule it in your calendar as you would a doctor’s appointment, and do everything you can to stick to your plan,” says Van Haveren. “It’s all too easy to fall off the fitness wagon when you start skipping workouts. I recommend trying to exercise for at least 10 minutes, even on bad days.

Pick the right time. “You’ll enjoy your workout more if you don’t do it when your symptoms are at their worst,” says Bryant. “For example, if you’re most stiff when you wake up, then exercise after work. Or if you’re exhausted at the end of the day, work out in the morning.”


Certain forms of exercise are particularly effective for individuals with arthritis. Here are five you may want to consider.

Walking. There’s a reason it’s America’s favorite workout: “It’s safe for almost everyone, even those with severe arthritis. The only equipment it requires is a pair of comfortable, supportive shoes; and it involves zero training," says Dr. Wright.

To get the most from your walking workout, consider the Arthritis Foundation's Walk With Ease program. It helps you develop a walking plan suited for your needs, helps you stay motivated and teaches you to exercise safely. You can do it in a group with a trained instructor, or on your own with guidance from a book that provides instructions, checklists, progress charts and other helpful information. Because it’s an evidence-based program, it’s safe and effective for people with arthritis.

Water workouts. “Swimming or water aerobics are especially great for people who are heavier or who have advanced arthritis,” says C. Thomas Vangsness Jr., MD, chief of sports medicine at the Los Angeles County University & Southern California Medical Center. “If you can find a heated pool, all the better – warm water almost instantly relieves painful joints."