There’s no doubt about it: Exercise helps manage the symptoms of hip osteoarthritis.
Studies have shown that a regular exercise program helps you maintain mobility and flexibility. In addition, a new survey of 19 studies shows that exercise decreases short-term pain from hip osteoarthritis too. 1 Effects of exercise and manual therapy on pain associated with hip osteoarthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Br J Sports Med doi:10.1136/bjsports-2015-095255
Read more: Hip Osteoarthritis Treatment
However, you might be hesitant to try exercising in the winter. Between your joints already being stiff because of the cold weather and the danger of slipping when it’s icy or snowy, you may feel like you’re better off waiting until spring to be active.
Read more: Does Cooler Weather Affect Your Joints?
Before you give up on being active in the winter, consider these options for ways to keep moving through the cold months.
- Take a dip.
The pool is an ideal place for someone with hip osteoarthritis to be active in the winter. Not only does the warm, moist air help joints stay more loose and flexible, but when you’re in the water, the weight on your hip joint is greatly reduced.
You can join a water aerobics class that will take you through a gentle exercise routine or you can swim laps. If your hip hurts too much to kick during lap-swimming, use a flotation device held between your knees so you can focus just on your stroke.
Read more: Exercising with Arthritis
- Add stability.
If you’re ready to take a walk but you’re worried about falling because of your hip and/or slippery conditions, consider giving Nordic walking a try. Nordic walking involves using trekking poles to stabilize your steps and take some of the pressure off your hips with each stride. Many trekking poles come with adjustable rubber-to-metal tips, so you can customize them for dirt or asphalt surfaces.
Read more: Hike to Better Health with Nordic Walking
- Build resistance.
Winter is a perfect time to focus on your strength training, also known as resistance training. By strengthening the core and leg muscles that surround your hip joint, you can decrease pain and increase strength and function.
Strength training can be done comfortably inside, either at home or in the gym. You can use weight machines, barbells, resistance bands, or even gravity. Aim to do it 2 to 3 times a week for 30 minutes. Don’t forget to warm up with gentle stretching first, and stop immediately if you feel sharp pain from any exercise.
Read more: Strength Training Can Crush Arthritis Pain
Once you’re done exercising in the winter, you can use heat therapy to warm up and soothe muscles and tissue that may feel sore.
- 1 Effects of exercise and manual therapy on pain associated with hip osteoarthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Br J Sports Med doi:10.1136/bjsports-2015-095255