If you are one of the 3.85 million Australians living with arthritis, you'll be eager to find some simple, practical ideas to help relieve your pain, keep you mobile and make daily activities easier so you can live your best life.
It's a fact: regular exercise is one of the most effective treatments for arthritis.
Being physically active can help to reduce the pain in your muscles and joints, strengthen muscles and bones and increase your flexibility.
Being active can also help you to sleep better, feel less tired and to lift your mood.
As extra bonuses, staying active is a good excuse to get out and about, meet new people and maintain a healthy weight. So which exercise is best?
- Warm water exercises are soothing for stiff joints and sore muscles. Why not call your local swimming centre to find out about classes?
- Regular walking with a 2 or 4-legged friend is a great way to get out of the house and enjoy some fresh air.
- Chair-based exercise classes help to increase your strength and balance and are a good option if you are less mobile.
- Tai Chi is a gentle exercise that involves smooth, flowing movements that can help to reduce pain and stiffness and increase your feelings of well-being.
Remember to chat to your doctor or physiotherapist before starting a new exercise program. A physio can also help you with exercises suited to your needs and health.
Break larger tasks like cooking dinner down into smaller steps and rest in-between each step.
It's often helpful to lower your expectations of yourself. Enjoying your daily exercise and spending time with your family is far more important than a spotless house!
Plan activities that need more effort so they are spread evenly through your day and week.
Sometimes it can be tempting to do many things in one day: you are already out of the house for a doctor's appointment and to have your haircut, so you decide to add in some grocery shopping and pay some bills at the post office. It seems like a great plan at the time, but the next day you are too tired and sore to get off the couch! It can often be more time-efficient to schedule only one or two main activities each day.
Make life easier with helpful aids and equipment.
If there is a task you find difficult because of arthritis, there is a high chance that someone has invented a gadget to help protect your joints by reducing the effort needed.
There are tools to help you in the kitchen, like cutlery and cooking utensils with easy-grip handles that take the pressure off your joints. There are even electric or battery-operated vegetable peelers!
Jar openers and tap turners help to reduce the twisting pressure on finger and wrist joints.
Long-handled shoe horns can make the task of putting shoes on much easier, and long-handled sponges are a great help in the shower.
Contact your local Independent Living Centre or occupational therapist to find out more.
Perhaps you need a new interest or challenge in your life?
Spend some time thinking about hobbies that you have always dreamt of trying and find a class near you. It could be anything you fancy — from an exotic cooking class or ballroom dancing to croquet, Tai chi, a book club, flower arranging or picture framing. If you lose any concept of time when you are involved in your new hobby, you know you've chosen the right thing.
Enjoy a good night's sleep.
Everyone feels better after a restful night's sleep. Unfortunately, the pain of arthritis can make it more difficult to sleep well — and when you are more tired, it can lower your threshold to pain, creating a vicious cycle.
One of the keys to a good night's sleep is the right bed with a supportive mattress. Find out more about sleeping well and choosing the best bed for your needs in our upcoming blog on 'Top tips for a good night's sleep' (coming soon!).
Have some fun!
Losing yourself in a good book, spending time with friends, singing, dancing or seeing a funny movie are all fabulous ways to put some fun back into your life and distract yourself from pain and worry.
If you are no longer confident about driving or have difficulty walking more than short distances, it may be time to consider a mobility scooter to help you get out and about to spend time with friends, enjoy new activities and maintain your independence. Our customers constantly tell us that buying a mobility scooter has been the single best decision they have made to help them live an independent life to the fullest.