Getting outdoors is good for your health — both physical and mental. While this is no secret, what many don’t realize is that the healing powers of nature can come in handy even for specific ailments such as arthritis. For starters, there’s the fact that being outside helps you get sufficient levels of Vitamin D, which is good for the skin and the body as a whole. Furthermore, nature relaxes and a relaxed mind and body are better able to combat joint pain and inflammation.
Try these four simple outdoor activities to help curb your arthritis pain. We’ve put the most important activity right at the top — both in an honest attempt to give you the best upfront, and because the unsurmountable benefits of a good, long walk have us tightening our shoelaces as we speak.
Walk — to markets and fairs, to the park, or even just around the block
There’s actually immense benefit to be taken from strolling between booths at your neighborhood farmer’s market. A recent article in Outside magazine, written by author and habitual walking enthusiast Shane O’Mara noted that the simple act of taking regular walks boosts how you feel afterward — both mentally and physically.
O’Mara makes the claim broadly, speaking to any with the physical ability to do so. Still, it certainly appears that walking is the easiest (and cheapest) way we can get outside and keep active despite our arthritis. For those of us with chronic arthritis, the takeaways are clear — go at your own pace, stop as often as necessary, and carry an umbrella — especially this time of year.
Arthritis.org backs this up. The site, viewed by many as the most trusted authority for arthritis information on the internet, notes walking as one of the single most important things that people with arthritis can do to curb their pain.
Not only does walking keep your muscles and joints active and engaged, but it also helps you maintain weight and keeps your body accustomed to physical exercise. It keeps you outside and moving rather than cooped up in the living room, too, so there’s really no reason not to get out for a stroll
And you can do so just about anywhere — to your neighborhood farmer’s market, to take the dog or the grandkids to the park, or simply to head down the block for a friendly chat. Make it out for a short stroll each day and once or twice per week on a longer walk and you’re doing quite well.
If you happen to get caught in a rainstorm, channel your inner-Gene Kelly and fire up a tune. You may arrive to your destination wet, but you’ll also arrive happy and with a smile on your face.
Pickleball is the trendiest sport among seniors, even those with arthritis, a happy ending for a sport that drew a variation of the same reaction from everyone the first time they saw it: “What the heck is that?”
For the uninitiated, pickleball is similar to tennis, so much so that it’s often played on the same court, albeit just half of it. The game is the offspring of badminton and table tennis brought to the great outdoors, with the major perk of being much lower-impact on joints and muscles than traditional tennis.
The game is popular with arthritis patients because the racquet is specially designed to be easy on the wrists and to perform its duty with a minimal power input from the player — there’s no need to run full-force at the ball in order to deliver a solid hit.
Another benefit of pickleball for those with arthritis is that it helps to improve your stability and balance, as well as your ability to hop-to in a flash in order to make a play on the ball.
If this sounds like a game that you’d like to try, contact your local Parks & Recreation department, recreation center, or seniors association to find meetups in your area.
Usually, when fishing is brought into a conversation, it’s one about conservation, about getting out onto the water with family or friends, or a combination storytelling session and bragging match about who has caught the biggest fish. The ability of a day of fishing to calm the mind and relieve stress are well known, but rarely are fishing’s physical benefits brought to light.
Fishing can be tough on arthritis because of the intricate process of preparing a line, bait and tackle, and everything else that goes into the preparation. For some with wrist or elbow pain, even the act of casting the line can trigger an arthritic flare-up. But as ergonomic fishing rods continue to evolve and become more popular, it is getting easier to fish with arthritis.
This is also a fun sport to pick up at an older age because of how easy it is to connect with other fishermen and women who can share their know-how and tricks of the trade. We recommend going with a family member or friend, and leaving the finger work to them.
Birdwatching goes well with our lead activity here on this list, walking (and can make it more fun as well). As you can fish nearly everywhere there is a water source, you can spot birds nearly anywhere there is a nature preserve, a park, or even a collection of trees.
As a resource, follow up-to-date birding news from Birdwatching. Their website can educate you on what to look for in your area and when you might have the best chance of spotting, as well as tips for optimizing your time out birding.
To prepare for your outdoor adventure, consider an omega-3 supplement such as GLX3 to minimize joint pain and inflammation before, during, and after your exercise. By combining the healing powers of omega-3 fatty acids with a healthy lifestyle, you’re on your way to reduced arthritis pain — and happier retirement.
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