Finally the chill of winter is disappearing and you can spend time outside again! Spring is a great time to get back outside and kick-start your exercise routine.
But just like Mother Nature needs to gradually warm the days, so should you return to outdoor activity gradually and wisely to avoid injury or joint pain. These tips can help you get moving this spring without any mishaps.
Warm joints with heat therapy
A heating pad or toasty bath can be comforting or help ease muscle soreness after exercising. Applying heat for 10 minutes after a workout session or activity like spring cleaning can help increase blood flow to the muscles and help them return to their normal state without seizing up.
In addition to providing post-workout comfort, using heat therapy before you exercise has surprising benefits too. The increased blood flow warms up the muscles and helps them be flexible and ready to move.
Stretch and warm up/cool down
Just like with heat therapy, stretching can provide exercise benefits both before and after physical activity.
People with arthritis often need additional time to warm up, and should plan on 10 to 15 minutes to do so. Warm-up activities can include gentle range-of-motion exercises, walking, or marching. Spend a few minutes doing the same type of activity as a cool-down after your workout.
When you stretch, focus on the major muscles of your body, such as the hamstrings. Those with arthritis can also benefit from stretching the muscles adjacent to their arthritis-affected joint(s). This provides better support for the joint and more flexibility. This guide to knee stretches and shoulder stretches can give you specific examples to try.
Don't shortchange your sleep
As the days change in length and daylight hours expand, it can disrupt your sleep routine. Most adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep, and being well rested can boost your energy for exercising (which in turn can help you sleep better). To stay on the right track with getting quality sleep, follow these tips:
- Follow a sleep routine. For example, unwind with an evening ritual, avoid watching TV or browsing the Internet in the bedroom, and go to bed at the same time every night.
- Keep it cool and dark. Create a sleep-friendly environment by using curtains and a fan or the thermostat to make your bedroom cooler and darker than other rooms in the house.
For more tips on getting a good night’s sleep, consider these therapies for treating insomnia.
Keep moving—even when you're not exercising
It’s easy to get wrapped up in a task or activity at work or at home and stay in one position too long, causing stiff muscles and aches. You can keep joints flexible—particularly arthritic ones—by making it a point to move them regularly:
- Get up and move every 30 minutes. Every half an hour, make it a point to walk around the house or office. You don’t have to go far, just spend a minute or two being active.
- Stretch while you sit. If you’re in a meeting or otherwise can’t get up for a stroll, you can still do subtle stretching and flexing exercises. Reach your arms up above your head or roll your feet up on the ball of the foot or back on the heel repeatedly.