Seven Mental Tricks to Get You Moving with Arthritis

Exercise is essential for keeping joints and muscles from feeling stiff. Here are seven mental tricks to get you moving.

1. Seven Mental Tricks to Get You Moving with Arthritis
You know that physical activity is essential for keeping joints from feeling overly painful and stiff. But knowing and doing are two different things. The biggest secret: You don’t need willpower of steel to stick with a plan. Try these practical tips to help shift how you think about physical activity, and develop a workout routine that sticks.
2. Add a Little Joy
Make working out “me time.” Catch up on podcasts or listen to an audiobook. And don’t do something you hate just because it’s “good for you.” Running isn’t your thing? Try a dance class or biking. You’re more likely to stick with something you enjoy.
3. Turn It into a Game
Challenge yourself to move daily. Download a smartphone app like The Walk: Fitness Tracker Game (your steps unlock more clues and episodes in a mystery story) or Zombies, Run! (you listen to stories and walk faster when zombies chase you). On tough days, knock back the intensity with a Wii tai chi game or compete with your kids on Wii Just Dance.
4. Make Activity Automatic
Mix physical activity into your every day. Park farther away, take the stairs or walk to lunch. Or workout for a cause. If you volunteer at the local animal shelter, you’ll have to lift pets, clean cages and make sure the animals get exercise – which you’ll get, too.
5. Get Back in the Saddle
If you miss a few days in a row, don’t beat yourself up. Think about why your approach isn’t working and tweak your plan. It may help to write down an action plan. Be specific – if your goal is to walk 20 minutes a day, write down the time of day you plan on walking and how you’ll make it happen (walking on your lunch break, taking an after dinner stroll, packing your lunch the night before so you can walk up earlier to exercise, etc.).
6. Some is Better than None
If you’re having a painful day, dial down the intensity, but don’t bag the session altogether. The most important thing is to keep moving. Instead of your usual kickboxing workout, opt for a restorative yoga class or do some gentle exercises lying down, like knee or leg lifts.
7. Broaden Your Horizons
Even if you enjoy your current routine, there may come a day when you get bored. Get out and try something new every six weeks or once a quarter. Knowing there’s another fun alternative will keep you motivated to move if you’re tempted to call it quits.
8. End on a “Good” Note
Research has found that “good” means “easy.” In one study, cyclists who ended their 15-minute, vigorous workouts with an extra five minutes of easy pedaling liked their sessions better than those who stopped after 15 minutes with no cool down. Other research found that reducing intensity at the end of a workout can your next exercise session seem more appealing. So, don’t cheat your cooldown; it’s smart for your health!
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