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Keep active during your working week

However busy you are, your physical health is too important not to give it the time and attention it deserves. Try to have daily routines which incorporate physical activity, and view them as fun distractions from any stresses that work and life might throw at you.

If you have arthritis or a related condition it might make the thought of exercise unappealing, but regular exercise can greatly improve the symptoms of arthritis and related conditions, such as stiffness, immobility, pain and swelling. Exercise releases endorphins, these chemicals are the body's natural painkillers. Exercising regularly, particularly aerobic exercise, can improve sleep patterns and the quality of sleep you get, which will help you manage pain, generally feel better about yourself and have more energy.

It's sometimes difficult to find time to exercise regularly if you have a busy working life. Exercise may feel even harder if you have arthritis or a related condition, and you'll need to pace yourself throughout the week. However, there's plenty of evidence to suggest that even by doing a little bit of extra exercise each day you'll soon start to feel the benefits, allowing you to cope better with pain and fatigue.

Exercise guidelines

Government physical activity guidelines for adults recommend that we do one of the following options:

  1. 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, such as cycling or fast walking, every week, as well as strength exercises on two or more days a week on all major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms)
  2. 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, such as running or a game of singles tennis every week, as well as the strengthening exercises
  3. a mixture of vigorous and moderate aerobic exercise as well as the strengthening exercises.

Add more activity through your day

Here are some simple, easy, but effective tips you could adopt to be that little bit more active throughout the day:

Start the day well

  • Make stretching exercises a regular routine first thing in the morning.
  • Start the day off with a healthy, low-fat, low-sugar, balanced, nutritious and filling breakfast. A breakfast such as muesli, wholemeal toast or porridge will give you plenty of energy for the morning and make you less inclined to snack. Having a good breakfast also kicks your metabolism into gear.
  • If you drive to work, you could park your car a little further away and walk the rest of the way in. You could repeat this in reverse at the end of the day.
  • If you use public transport, you could get off one stop earlier and walk the rest of the way in. Again, you could repeat this in reverse at the end of the day.

During the day

  • Climb the stairs rather than take the lift.
  • Can you make going for a walk at lunchtime a regular routine?
  • Or, is there a swimming pool close enough for you to go for a swim in your lunch break?
  • Visit the supermarket rather than doing online shopping; pushing a trolley around the aisles is a good way to get your step count up.

Keep a track of your progress

  • Using a pedometer can be good fun and motivating to help track how many steps you are doing. There are some reasonably priced ones, and if you feel like investing a bit more there are some products which are very interactive and fun.
  • Or, you could keep a good old-fashioned written diary of the exercises you do and even what you're eating. This would be a good way to track the progress you're making.

Keep motivated

  • Set yourself some ambitious, but achievable, exercise goals to keep you motivated.
  • Talk to colleagues and/or friends about exercising. Maybe you could have a friendly walking competition in a group to see how many steps you do in a week.
For more information, go to www.arthritisresearchuk.org.
Arthritis Research UK fund research into the cause, treatment and cure of arthritis. You can support Arthritis Research UK by volunteering, donating or visiting our shops.