Taking Arthritis in Strides: 12 Ways to Walk More

When it comes to managing arthritis pain, even the smallest steps count.

You exercise your hips and knees so you can walk more, without pain or exhaustion. But doctors will also tell you that the best way to walk more is to… walk more. Here are 12 ideas to get you on your feet and moving:

1. Regulate it. Every night, immediately after dinner, take a 20-minute stroll. Don’t let the weather stop you — that’s what jackets, boots, and umbrellas are for. Indeed, there’s something wonderfully refreshing and childlike about a walk in the rain or snow. Post-dinner is the perfect time for a walk. It gets you away from the television, it’s when others are outside, it’s a lovely time of day, and it stops you from eating more.

2. Develop a habit. Never sit while talking on the phone. Instead, walk around your home if you have a portable phone, and if not, pace back and forth. You’d be surprised how much movement you can do when you are concentrating on a conversation rather than the exertion.

3. Make it social. Plan events around walking. For example, rather than meeting friends for coffee or lunch, suggest meeting at the public gardens for a stroll.

4. Take a commercial break. When watching television, always get up and move about during commercials. You’ve seen them already, anyhow. During a single one-hour show, you can get in more than 10 minutes of activity!

5. Step up to it. Take the stairs, take the stairs, take the stairs. You’ve heard it a million times, but if it is three flights or less, you have no excuse to take an elevator, unless your arthritis pain is truly prohibitive. In that case, take one flight of stairs instead.

6. Make it interesting. For an evening’s diversion, do some outdoor window-shopping. Strolling down a street of shops is great for people-watching, talking, and feeling alive.

7. Split your lunch. Divide your lunch hour in two: 30 minutes of eating, 30 minutes of walking. No one needs to eat for 60 minutes. Chances are, you’re just sitting and talking. Invite your lunch partner along for the stroll.

8. Escape the mundane. Find a park or a wilderness area near you and commit to a nature walk a few times a week. Nothing lifts your soul as much as a good walk in the woods (or by the lake, or even in the desert).

9. Go postal. Locate the outdoor mailbox closest to your home, and get in the habit of walking to it to send off your bills or letters. Maybe it’ll get you to write more letters — wonderful for your hands, even better for your friends and family.

10. Book yourself. If you have little children in your life — be they yours, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, or even just neighbors — commit to the following per year: a trip to the ball game, a trip to the circus, a trip to the zoo, a trip to the aquarium, a trip to the kids’ museum. Buy the tickets long in advance, and exercise in advance so you’re ready for a full day of fun.

11. Feel the rhythm. Somehow, somehow, find a way to dance. Don’t wait for a date or a wedding. Turn on the stereo and dance at home. Join a square-dance group or take ballroom lessons.

12. Make it secondhand. Come up with a personal “instant walk” trigger. For example, anytime you become drowsy, take a five-minute walk. Or, anytime you want a snack. Or, anytime you get angry, bored, melancholy, or stressed. Walking isn’t just an antidote for arthritis pain, it is a wonderful way to work out mental and emotional issues as well.