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Share a Hobby or Class
Spend time with your kids or grandkids and have fun while you're moving. Even with arthritis, you can enjoy the low-impact exercise you need to keep joints flexible and muscles strong. Try taking a class together or share an active hobby, such as swimming, golf, dancing, or gardening.
Train for a Fun Run or 5K
Take part in a local fun run, walk, or 5K with the kids but do it right, advises Patience H. White, MD, MA, vice president of public health for the Arthritis Foundation. Talk to your doctor to make sure running or walking is OK for you. Then find out the best way to get started based on your flexibility, strength, and ability.
Try Tabletop Games
Knee osteoarthritis pain can keep you from spreading out on the floor to play traditional games like puzzles, chess, and dominoes. Instead, take them to a table so you can sit comfortably. Or introduce kids to active games like table tennis, foosball, or billiards that let you move around to help prevent stiffness.
Cooking With the Kids
Every pound of excess weight you lose takes four pounds of pressure off your knees. So a healthy weight may mean less arthritis pain -- particularly when you have knee osteoarthritis. Although no diet prevents arthritis or lessens its progression, a balanced diet is vital for weight management. Cook with the kids and whip up healthy muffins, casseroles, or breads.
Arts and Crafts
Get small muscles in motion by getting crafty. There are so many things you can do -- from models, mosaics, and scrapbooks to jewelry, candles, and decorating clothes. If arthritis in your hands prevents you from doing a lot of cutting or painting, let the kids do the detail work while you do the bigger jobs or oversee the project.
Stretching and strength-building are vital if you have arthritis, so find a way to get some activity in while you're outdoors. Grab the kids and kick through fallen leaves as you head out to fly kites. Toss a ball back and forth, but buy several sizes, to suit your grip. Or design an obstacle course that encourages flexibility along with fun. Just be sure to listen to your body, so you don't overdo it.
Have High-Tech Fun
Get an easy aerobic workout as you walk parks and trails with geocaching, an outdoor treasure hunt that uses GPS to find hidden objects tucked inside containers. Or take the fun indoors with active video games that get you moving and off the couch. As with all exercise, avoid specific movements that put too much pressure on your joints.
Get a spic-and-span house and yard with the benefit of mild stretches and range-of-motion exercises. If your kids or grandkids are small, keep pint-sized brooms, mops, and rakes on hand, then get "help" with the chores. Remember to take stretching breaks often and alternate motions so you don't strain your joints. Choose ergonomic tools for easier gripping.
Go Treasure Hunting
Hide toys and trinkets around the yard or park (stretch gently when you are reaching to place the items), then join kids on a scavenger hunt. Or buy a few pairs of low-cost binoculars or magnifying glasses, grab a nature guide, and get some aerobic exercise as you search for birds, butterflies, bugs, or wild flowers.
Grow a Garden
Kids love digging in the dirt, so start a container garden or a couple of raised garden beds and see who can grow the brightest flowers or biggest tomatoes. Make sure you have great equipment, including pads to kneel on and ergonomic tools with fatter grips or longer handles.
Walk the Dog
Grab the kids and dog and get walking. Not only will you get your muscles moving, but a stroll can help relieve arthritis symptoms for you and your pet. Research shows that walking can ease pain, improve function, and increase quality of life for people with osteoarthritis. For a stronger workout, enroll everyone in dog agility training classes.
Discover Your Own Fun
Whatever you do with your kids or grandkids, the point is to stay active. When you have arthritis, joints often hurt -- so it's tempting to stop using them. But then muscles get weak, joints have more trouble functioning, and pain may increase. So whether it's swimming, walking, or just spending time on the playground, it's important to keep moving.
Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on Monday, March 24, 2014
Slideshow Pictures: Osteoarthritis -- Stay Active With Kids and Don't Let Arthritis Stop You
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