Walking, a simple exercise that is good for nearly everyone, is one of the best forms of exercise for people
with arthritis. Walking strengthens your heart, helps your lungs work more efficiently and helps maintain joint flexibility. For people with arthritis, joint flexibility and muscle strengthening are important because joints may become limited in mobility and muscles weaken with inactivity. Walking can help you gain all the added benefits of exercise, including weight loss and stress control. It is also an easily accessible exercise and doesn’t require gym membership, expensive equipment or special skills.

Walking is one of the safest forms of exercise, as it puts less stress on the body than most other forms of aerobic exercise. Walking is considered a light intensity activity that builds stamina and boosts cardiovascular fitness. Many people who begin a walking program report feeling happier, more in shape, a renewed sense of energy and a reduced feeling of pain.

Walking has many other benefits for your mind, body and spirit. You can walk with friends or family members, walk with your pet or start a walking program, such as the Arthritis Foundation’s Walk With Ease, at your workplace. You can listen to music or an audio book while walking, plan your walk routes around different neighborhood parks or sites, or participate in a fundraising walk.

When you start walking, make sure you warm up and cool down for a few minutes before and after your walk. It is always good to include some gentle stretches to get your muscles moving. Walk at your own pace — one that is comfortable for you. It is also important to stay hydrated. You may want to bring a bottle of water or a sports drink with you.

As always, before starting any exercise plan, it is suggested that you talk to your doctor or health professional
to determine the best level of intensity and length of time for your walks. Make sure that you have the appropriate shoes for walking — shoes should have flexible soles, good arch support and cushions inside. Wear loose and comfortable clothing that keeps you cool while you walk. Always remember to walk in a safe area; let others know your route and when you plan to return, and carry your cell phone in case of any emergency.

The Arthritis Foundation’s Walk With Ease Program is designed for people with arthritis. For more information on this or other programs, please visit www. arthritis.org/hawaii or call 808-596-2900

ARTHRITIS FOUNDATION 2752 Woodlawn Drive, Honolulu, HI 96822 808-596-2900 | info@arthritis.org/hawaii www.arthritis.org/hawaii Information in this article is from the Arthritis Foundation’s Walk With Ease, Walking and Arthritis, and Exercise and Arthritis.