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Slideshow: 15 Easy Ways to Stay Active With Arthritis

Play Video Games

Grab a gaming system but get off the couch. Research suggests some sports video games may burn as many calories as a brisk walk. In a study funded by Nintendo, the Wii Sports tennis, baseball, and boxing games all qualified as moderate-intensity exercise. For joint flexibility and to improve your range of motion with arthritis, try your hand at balance games and yoga exercises.

Get Your Dog and Start Walking

An eager dog can be the perfect cure for couch potato syndrome. He can keep you company and keep you motivated during your daily walks. Because walking keeps your joints flexible and your muscles strong, this low-impact, weight-bearing exercise is a good choice for people with arthritis. Research also suggests dog owners tend to have lower blood pressure and cholesterol than their pet-less peers.

Wash Your Car

Washing your car offers the chance to get a workout and clean car at the same time. But don't just stand there spraying the hose at your windshield. You need to get your heart working. That means soaping up a rag and scrubbing your car from bumper to bumper. An hour's worth of hearty work can burn more than 300 calories for a 155-pound person.

Make a Play Date

If you have kids, grandkids, or babysit for neighbors, make your time with them as active as possible. Playing hide and seek or exploring a park can be an active, low-impact workout. For people with arthritis of the hands, board games, puzzles, and crafts are not only kid-friendly activities but they may also help keep your fingers limber. For the greatest benefit, arrange regular play dates a few times a week.

Carry Your Groceries

Make the most of your supermarket trip by carrying your groceries in the store and to your car. The weight adds intensity to walking and helps strengthen your upper body. Carry your bags across your arms to protect your hands. For an extra challenge, carry your bags up steps. Research suggests people who can carry groceries and climb stairs are less likely to have a stroke than those who can't.

Clean Your House

Don’t dread housework; it's a way to avoid the gym. Cleaning the floor counts as moderate exercise because it raises your heart rate and makes you breathe faster. Other good exercise: washing windows, hanging laundry, and cleaning the bathroom. To protect your joints: Alternate motions and the hands you use. Don't overextend your reach, and bend with your knees to save your back. Consider knee pads for kneeling.

Dance Through Your Chores

Some household chores, like unloading the dishwasher, don't raise your heart rate on their own. But you can kick things up a notch by putting on music and moving! Try dancing while dusting, vacuuming, cooking, or putting away dishes. The trick is to use music you love, so you'll have fun while working up a sweat.

Tend Your Garden

Gardening can provide a surprisingly well-rounded workout. Wielding a rake or shovel can strengthen your muscles, improve flexibility, and raise your heart rate. An hour of weeding or digging is great for endurance, too. To avoid stooping, use long-handled tools or build raised garden beds. As a bonus, whether your focus is on tending flowers or fruit, you’ll have something to show for your efforts.

Find Fitness Friends

Instead of planning lunch dates, suggest meeting friends for a brisk walk through the mall or a park. While you may be tempted to shrug off a solo workout, you will be less likely to stand up a friend. And being active can help you meet weight loss or goals if you have them. If you're overweight, losing extra pounds can help reduce arthritis pain -- especially in the knees.

Volunteer Your Time

Help yourself and other people by taking on volunteer projects that benefit both mind and body. Consider walking dogs at the local animal shelter, planting trees, coaching a youth sports team, or building houses. Studies show that older adults who volunteer regularly have a greater sense of well-being than those who don't.

Hike or Bike on Your Next Outing

You may be in the habit of driving everywhere, no matter how close your destination. But think about some of your favorite places -- stores, restaurants, the library, parks. Are any of them close enough to reach safely by bike or foot? If so, you'll get exercise while saving gas money. In addition, biking is easy on your joints while still giving you a good workout.

Take the Stairs

When you head toward an elevator, think before using it. By taking the stairs, you can weave exercise into your daily routine without setting aside time for a workout. However, if you have knee osteoarthritis -- a condition that affects nearly one in two people before age 85 -- your health care provider may suggest that you consider another form of exercise.

Park in the Last Spot

Walking is one of the best forms of exercise for arthritis, so find ways to fit it into your day. Whether you're driving to the mall, office, or supermarket, make a habit of parking in the spot farthest from the entrance. Then power walk to the front door. When this becomes too easy, try parking a couple of blocks away from your destination. Wear a pedometer to see how much ground you’ve covered.

Take a Class

Like working out in a social setting? Sign up for a class. You'll have a regular exercise time and place, plus a group of people who expect to see you. Remember, a fitness class doesn't have to mean aerobics. Always wanted to learn karate or salsa dancing? Look for a class that will keep you coming back. Or join a walking group or masters swim team. Both walking and swimming are especially easy on the joints.

Add Up Your Exercise Time

You don't have to do all your exercises at once. It’s OK to do it in 10-minute spurts. If you're new to exercise, aim to be active 15 to 20 minutes a day, three days a week. Then work up to 30 minutes every day. The key is doing activities that will work your large muscle groups, quickening your breathing and heart rate.Unsure about which activities may be best for you? Ask your doctor.

Staying Active With Arthritis

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