25 Ways to Stay Active Indoors – Even if you Have Arthritis! – by Ashley Boynes-Shuck

It is often hard for people with arthritis to exercise as frequently as we want to — and it is even more difficult when we are confined indoors during these winter months, which, for many, are colder and with worse weather.

But, have no worries, have no fear — here is a list of 25 ideas that you can try to keep moving indoors, whether you have blustery cooler winter months or not! 

  • Chair yoga – “get fit where you sit” by doing yoga….in a chair. For some info, click here.
  • Jumping rope – Buy a jump rope and have at it! Whether it’s from a sporting goods store or the toy aisle at the dollar store, it’s all the same — a great way to get the blood flowing. Here is one 10-minute workout. Remember, do workouts at your own pace!
  • Dancing – create a playlist to your favorite song and dance around your house like no one is watching!
  • Wii, X-Box Kinect, or Playstation Move - these video gaming systems allow you to move about without a wired controller, and your motions are a part of the game! There are fitness and dance options, too.
  • Chores – yes, cooking and cleaning burn calories and will keep you moving. Doing chores can be exercise, and may contribute to better health.
  • Stair-master – No, I don’t mean a piece of exercise equipment — I mean, your stairs! Walk up and down the steps of your home to become a true stair master.
  • Exercise TV – Verizon FiOS and Comcast (among others) offer “Exercise TV” On Demand under the Sports section. There are lots of fun options from dance workouts to pilates, yoga, tai chi, and more.
  • Resistance bands – rubber resistance bands are a great way to tone and build muscle, and can be very low-impact.
  • Suspension training - TRX is one example of “suspension training” where you use your own body weight to work out. Many physical therapists use this in their offices, and it can be hung over any door in your home. It comes with an instructional DVD.
  • Jumping Jacks – Jump in place and do some jumping jacks in your living room!
  • Sit-ups or crunches – Same thing, you can do these at home! If you have hardwood floors, invest in a yoga mat so that your back finds some comfort while doing your sit-ups or crunches.
  • Touch your toes – Yes, just doing repetitive “bend down and touch your toes” motions can be good for you. Even if you can’t ACTUALLY touch your toes, go as far as you can!
  • Stretch – Simple stretching really does get the blood flowing. For the more advanced, yoga is a great option. No matter how severe your arthritis, you can stretch. Some people can more than others. It will increase flexibility, too.
  • Neck rolls – Roll your head side to side and touch your tin to your chest. Be careful with tilting your head back, though — some doctors advise against this.
  • Wall or Bed push-ups – Most of us with arthritis cannot do regular push-ups but what about doing a similar motion while standing against a wall or while on your bed to make it easier?
  • Torso twists – Stand with your feet planted flat and firm on the ground, put your hands on your hips, and repeatedly twist your torso side to side, keeping your legs and feet still and only moving the trunk of your body.
  • Light weights – Get 1, 3, or 5 pound weights or weighted balls, and do some bicep curls or arm extensions while watching television. You can even do the curling motion without weights to tone your biceps a bit.
  • Jog in place – No explanation needed here. Jog in place, as fast or slow as you need to, with as many breaks as you need to.
  • Seated leg extensions – Sit down in a chair and simply extend your leg out in front of you, one at at time to bend and straighten your knee.  Do it with or without ankle weights.
  • Ankle flexions and extensions – While seated, roll your ankle all the way around and also try some ankle flexions and extensions.
  • Bounce a ball – You know those big rubber bouncy balls that you used to play in the pool with as a kid? Get one — or use a basketball — and practice bouncing it for hand-eye coordination. You’ll be dribbling like a basketball pro in no time, and your hand-eye coordination will be improved!
  • Sun salutations – This popular yoga move is a great way to get the blood flowing first thing in the morning. For a simple tutorial, click here. If you can’t do all of it, just try to at least do the Mountain to Hands Up portion. It is a great stretch!
  • Laying bicycle kick –  Practice just laying on your back, legs up in the air, and kick them in a motion like you are riding a bicycle!  For a video, click here.
  • Try hand motion exercises – Keep your hand moving. Remember – use it or lose it. Check out this instructional video about range of motion exercises for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Laugh! Laughter yoga is a fun new trend that’s hitting the world of wellness. Laughing burns calories and releases endorphins that may help you to feel good!

I hope that these tips and ideas will help you keep active and fit during the winter months. Remember, too, that  a brisk walk (while bundled up, of course!) is a great way to get some fresh air and to stay moving.

Remember to ALWAYS consult with your doctor and/or physical therapist before starting ANY new exercise program or activity! Also,  be sure to ask your rheumatologists for other suggestions on ways to work out and get physical with arthritis! Always remember that levels of ability differ, and only do what you can. There’s no shame in trying!

And it’s never too late, you’re never too old – Check out this 72 year old fitness instructor for seniors who is an amazing inspiration!

Lastly, you may want to check out this WebMD Rheumatoid Arthritis Exercises Slide Show for even further tips! Enjoy

Do you have any indoor exercise activities for people with arthritis? Please leave a comment and share!

Stay Well,

Ashley Boynes-Shuck

What’s YOUR weapon against arthritis?

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15 thoughts on “25 Ways to Stay Active Indoors – Even if you Have Arthritis! – by Ashley Boynes-Shuck

  1. I totally agree with the indoors; there is so much to do inside that it’s not even funny, especially where I live with snowy, cold winters. I can do yoga, tai chi, kung-fu, practice my guitar and singing, blog, write and watch movies:)) Hope you had a great new year’s day and I look forward to reading more:))

    jonwatersauthor.wordpress.com

  2. Excellent tips for sure… I’m moving to Colorado at the end of this year and will definitely need to put these indoor exercises to use during the Winter months!

  3. There’s a brand new Tai Chi-based workout for weight loss and balance/coordination. Every day, Tai Cheng takes you through a gentle energizing warm up and teaches you a new Tai-Chi move. These workouts are designed to improve balance, awaken dormant energy sources, tone and strengthen your muscles, soothe stiffness, and increase your range of motion.

    Tai-Chi and the other ancient modalities within the Tai Cheng program are made for EVERYONE. It is a health restoration, health improvement, and wellness system for you.

    Experience energizing Chi Kung and gentle sequences that have been keeping people fit for centuries.

    It was tested with people that had OA, RA, and neurological conditions and there was much success. So I wanted to share.

    http://www.chrisbyrnes.com/2012/03/21/tai-cheng-thursday/

  4. You obviously know nothing about people suffering from rheumatic arthritis’s such as rheumatoid, psoriatic, reactive, ankylosing spondylosis because to advise someone with these arthritis’s that they can jump rope, jog in place, or do jumping jacks is ill advice! Please remove arthritis from the title-my rheumatologist would disagree, my physical therapist would have a heart attack! No, the joints cannot take that stress and you are advocating a flare for someone with arthritis. Bad advice!!

    • Hi Chrissy, I’d say that I do know a little bit about these conditions, considering that in addition to being a health coach and working with the AF, that I’ve lived with polyarticular juvenile rheumatoid arthritis since age 10, and was recently diagnosed with lupus and sjogrens syndrome on top of it. I have had 2 knee surgeries, a brain surgery, and a neck surgery, and my right knee needs replace. That said, I’ve been able to do these things and know others with rheumatic conditions and arthritis who have been able to do the same. Sure, I can’t run a marathon or play sports, but I can do these activities in moderation and at my own pace. We all suffer different levels of ability and disability despite living with the same condition. I have worked with physical therapists and my husband is a personal trainer. They, along with my rheumatologists who work out of one of the best hospitals in the country, have all agreed that it is perfectly fine and healthy to do what you can do in moderation and with supervision. The most important part is to listen to your body. So while many people with these conditions cannot do these things, many can. The blog certainly doesn’t say that everyone should do everything. They are suggestions. And quite frankly, the negative tone of your comment is insulting considering all that I do to encourage people like myself in the arthritis community. Anyone who follows my work knows that I am not a doctor and that I encourage people to do what they can personally, and talk to their own doctor. Suggestions are only that. Striving to be the best we can and do what we can with the cards we’ve been dealt is the ultimate goal. If that includes jump rope, great, if not, then people should try some other items on the list. – Ashley

      • CLEARLY you know nothing about suffering!?!?!?! PuhLEASE Chrissy! If you knew Ashley like I do, and many others, you would know she deals with her fair share of suffering. We are all affected differently by these diseases. She is not saying that everyone can or should do all of these things —- they are clearly suggestions for staying active which we should all try to do one way or another. Myself and many others appreciate everything you do Ashley, try and not let the debbie downers wear you thin from your mission.

      • My son has AS,juvenile arthritis and he loves basketball more than anything.he takes a beating from it and gets right back in.his drs have never told him not to.to do that would be detrimental psychologically.we support him.
        My daughter has polyarticular JA. She jumps around alot.we have not seen any harm in her but everybody is different.
        Myself if I sit still too long even a half hour without bending and flexing my knee gets inflamed.exercise definitely keeps the joints going! Thanks for sharing these clever ideas Ashley!

    • If I’ve learned one thing in my 49 year battle with RA, it’s that every patient is different. Some of us CAN run, jump, or jog in moderation, some of us can’t. We do what we can do. We adapt activities to suit our conditions, but we never know under we try. It’s better to try and succeed than to assume you can’t and never make the effort.

    • Chrissy – I have never heard Ashely promote doing anything more than one is able to at any one give time. There are times I can do more and times I can do nothing. There are times I could do more and don’t. Everyone’s rheumatic condition is different, and to advocate not doing anything when someone perhaps could do something is as dangerous as what you wrongly accuse Ashley of doing.

  5. arthritis can flare up by doing too much or by doing exercise that is not recommended by your doctor/physical therapist. i have learned this the hard way and a flare up is the last thing i want to have happen. and i am very careful not to let that happen. but when reading blogs, posts and personal information that is offering helpful ideas doesn’t mean that it works for everyone. what ashley is trying to convey is that movement is important and that long winters w/o moving much can be very bad. *a body in motion tends to stay in motion, that is true.

  6. Everyone suffers differently. I can barely walk due to my arthritis so I would never attempt a jumping jack, however i have absolutely no problem opening jars or tying my shoe lace and I hear so much about people who can barely hold a pen. I think we all know no one is the same. Just take what you need from the advice Ashley gives. No one person has all the answers. Ashley is just sharing her own experiences and what works for her. There are people that appreciate the suggestions given by someone who also has arthritis. Sometimes that advice seems more sound than advice by a rheumatologist who studies this field of medicine but doesn’t know what it’s like to live it! Ashley, I wouldn’t even acknowledge the negativity, it is not conducive to healing!! I think you’re great :-)

  7. I, like Ashley, have juvenile onset of Polyarticular Rheumatoid Arthritis, I was diagnosed at age 15 and am now 27, when I was first diagnosed I seen a physical therapist whom told me I shouldn’t run, jump, roller blade, or play sports. My Rheumatologist at the time said that was absolutely not true, I could do whatever I wanted to as long as I was able, as in the exercise was not causing my real pain. Over the course of my almost 12 year journey I have seen three different Rheumatologists whom have all told me the same thing, exercising and being active are essential for your health and also actually HELP with RA. You do what you can when you can, obviously in the midst of a flare you probably aren’t going to run a marathon, but I have ran numerous 10ks, 2 half marathons, and a ten mile road race and I regularly work out doing running, jumping, weight lifting, and yoga. You ABSOLUTELY can and should indeed work out when you have RA, you might need modifications, but movement helps yours joints!!!

  8. Ashley does know firsthand about suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and to suggest otherwise is insulting. I’ve followed her for a few years and she always shares her personal trials and tribulations. There isn’t a “one size fits all” when dealing with these conditions. The take away from this blog is there are options that “May” work for you but Always pay attention to your body and consult your doctor!

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