3 Easy-on-the-Joints Summer Exercise Activities
The sun is shining, the sky is clear, and my joints are recovering from the winter scaries they experience with the cold weather. That means it’s time to get outside and enjoy being active while I can.
In the summertime, I find that there are more activities to participate in that are joint-friendly or low-impact. My favorites this year have been swimming, electric bike rides, and casual evening family walks.
All 3 activities serve as great exercise and can be done with a group, which has been especially important to me to reconnect with people this year!
Benefits of low-impact exercise
A lot of people assume exercising with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) might aggravate their symptoms when, in fact, the opposite is often true for some people. Exercise with RA actually provides a ton of benefits including:1
- Strengthens the muscles around joints
- Improves bone strength
- Improves energy
- Helps with sleep quality
- Lessens stiffness and soreness
Experts recommend a regular, low-impact exercise routine 4-5 days a week or as tolerated.1
3 low-impact summer activities
Electric bike riding
For my 30th birthday in the middle of the pandemic, my husband gifted me an electric bike. At first, I was shocked since electric bikes are kind of an investment and I wasn’t much of a bike rider other than the occasional stationary bike in our living room.
However, the electric bike has really made me fall in love with bike riding!
The great thing about electric bikes (and biking in general) is that they are especially easy on your joints. There’s a feature called pedal assist on the electric bike that has really helped me out on hills where there is more pressure on your joints to keep up. The bike takes on some of the pedal load and makes it especially easy for anyone who is not an ultimate athlete.
Swimming summer fun
Another summertime activity to try is swimming, whether that’s a casual dip in the pool or more structured lap swimming.
Swimming is a great form of exercise due to the water's ability to make you more weightless, and therefore putting less pressure and strain on achy joints.
Personally, the warm water also seems to help loosen my tight muscles and improve the range of motion in my smaller joints. It’s a classic summertime activity turned into physical therapy.
Evening walks with my family
Each evening in the summer, our family tries to take a walk around the neighborhood or nearby trails. We sometimes stop at the local playground for our son to play, but mostly we just take a quick stroll at a slow pace.
We never go very far, maybe a mile or two before we head home for bedtime. Walking is a good low-impact form of exercise that strengthens your muscles, bones, and joints.2
I love taking walks after dinner because it always feels like a good way to prepare for bed by getting your body moving with a little easy aerobic exercise.
I realize I sleep better and can sometimes avoid the achy feeling that I get in the evenings after we take a short walk together as a family.
What’s your favorite way to get moving in the summertime? Do you enjoy low-impact exercise to help RA symptoms? Let us know below!
You know you have RA when [select all that apply in your experience]: