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Four ways to keep moving with joint pain

Jan 07, 2015 02:00PM ● By Cate Reynolds
Baby it’s cold outside! And nobody is more aware of that than those who suffer with joint pain.

Heating pads can work. (Nuking them is the best use of a microwave ever.) But they only last so long and limit your going-out options. Pills help, but who wants to be popping Aleve capsules every day for weeks? (That’s not good for your stomach or blood pressure.)

However, there is another option which, admittedly, sounds counter intuitive. According to the most recent research, one of the best ways to alleviate joint pain is exercise. Harvard Medical School has even come up with ways to help us all “move it!”

While exercise is great medicine, it only works if you carve out time to do it regularly. And sometimes the hardest part of a workout is getting started. Here are four ways to help you get your dose of physical activity:

1. Carve out the time. Skip several half-hour TV shows a week or work out while watching. Get up half an hour earlier each day for a morning workout. If big blocks of time aren’t falling into your lap, try 10-minute walks, or half a workout in the morning and half in the evening.

2. Build activity into your daily routine. Take stairs, not elevators. When commuting, get off the bus or subway a stop or two ahead, or park farther away from your workplace. While on the phone, try a few stretches, pace around, or do simple exercises like lunges, squats, and heel raises. Bike or walk to work. When running errands within a reasonable radius, park your car in one spot and walk to different shops. Replace your desk and desk chair with a standing desk. Try substituting a stability ball for your desk chair a few hours a day. Rake leaves and shovel snow instead of using a leaf blower or snowblower.

3. Find a workout buddy. Workouts with a friend can be more enjoyable, plus you're less likely to cancel on the spur of the moment.

4. Bugged by bad weather or early darkness? Buy equipment necessary for exercising at home, join a gym, try a class in your community, or walk the mall or an indoor athletic track at a local school.

When motivation flags, remind yourself of your goals, plan small rewards, ask a friend to check up on you, or consider working out with a personal trainer. The endgame is worth even more than improved fitness. The endgame is decreased pain. That’s priceless.

--Sarah Hagerty
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