Home Gym Hacks for Arthritis-Friendly Workouts

Turn these everyday items into helpful fitness tools.

Just because you’re at home, doesn’t mean you have to forgo your fitness routine. These everyday items can help keep you in shape and on track with your joint-friendly workout – no fancy gym equipment needed.

DOG LEASH OR BELT. These make good stretching straps, which can help prevent straining and deepen  your stretch, says Megan Lamothe, a physical therapist with the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.  Can’t touch your toes? Sit on a mat, legs straight, and hold each end of the belt or leash. Loop it under your  feet. Pull gently as you bend forward. 

CANS, BOTTLES AND JUGS. Try using water bottles as dumbbells for strength moves like wrist and biceps curls.  A 16-ounce water bottle weighs one pound, says  Sami Ahmed, director of physical therapy with The Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics in Ellicott City, Maryland. For an added challenge, he says, use  a laundry detergent or milk jug as a kettlebell: Grasp the handle with one or both hands for curls and kickbacks, or hold the sides for chest presses. 

CHAIR. You can use a chair not only for sit-to-stand exercises, but also as a stability bar. Hold the back for balance during squats and other exercises.

TENNIS BALL.  Ease muscles with a tennis ball:  Sit or stand with your back to a wall. Place the ball behind you, bracing it between your back and the wall, and move to gently roll  it  over tight areas, says Ahmed.  Roll it back and forth  under your foot to massage those muscles. Or squeeze it with your hand to improve grip strength.

BLANKETS AND TOWELS. A rolled-up blanket can be used as a bolster when you do yoga poses. Use a towel to strengthen foot muscles: Sit in a chair with a towel f lat beneath one foot. Scrunch your toes to pull it toward you. Repeat five times.

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