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6 Ways to Become Less Sedentary

Arthritis Patients Must Work at Becoming Less Sedentary

By

Updated September 13, 2012

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

People diagnosed with arthritis are thrust into a sedentary lifestyle because of pain and physical limitations. Simply put, they are limited in what they can do. But, they are advised to fight becoming too sedentary. Most people with arthritis would tell you it's not their desire to be sedentary.

What's sedentary, exactly? Watching television is a classic example of sedentary behavior, and it's a topic of much research. In fact, a study published in early 2010 showed that people who watched more than 4 hours of television per day had a 46% greater risk of dying from all causes compared to people who watched less than two hours a day. From that example alone, you can see that a sedentary lifestyle has significant consequences.

But it's not just TV watching. Though that was the focus of the study published in Circulation, the conclusions apply to any prolonged sedentary activity -- whatever may cause you to sit too much, lay down too much, or not move enough. People with arthritis would love to do more but they feel bound. Well, get ready. We've got some tips for you:

1 -- Look in the Mirror

You've heard the advice. You have read it. Thought about it. Talked about it. You fully realize that being sedentary is not optimal. The advice pertains to you just as much as it pertains to everyone else. Having arthritis doesn't earn you a "pass."

2 -- Make the Effort to Move Around

I have heard it said that if you can walk somewhere instead of drive, do it. If you can climb stairs instead of taking an elevator, do it. For people with moderate to severe arthritis, that may be a bit unrealistic. It's quite possible, disability interferes with walking long distances or stair climbing. But, you should still make the effort to move more while respecting your limitations. For example, if you drive to the store, can you park two spaces farther out and walk 20 feet more than you would have if you had taken the closest parking spot?

3 -- Raise the Bar

Constantly build on what you are doing to become less sedentary. In keeping with our last example, you parked two spots farther away to increase the distance you walked. Can you park 3 spots away the next time and 4 spots the time after that? Always try to raise the bar -- but at a realistic pace and always respecting your true limitations.

4 -- Think Outside the Box

I know a lot of people who exercise under the guidance of a physical therapist. However, when the instruction stops, so does the self-motivation. Exercise can be boring, especially if the results aren't visible. It's important to think about what will keep you engaged. Would you stick with an exercise routine if it were done as water exercise? Are you more likely to stick with exercise if it's done in a structured environment, like an exercise class? If you had a dog, would you be more inclined to walk it regularly?

5 -- Do Something You Enjoy

You are more likely to participate in exercise or physical activity if you are doing something you enjoy. Are you inspired to walk a certain trail? Is it enjoyable to swim, bicycle, or challenge your kids on the Nintendo Wii? Make certain that your level of enjoyment is high as you become less sedentary and more active.

6 -- Get a Buddy

Activities that can be shared are more engaging than activities you do alone. There would clearly be more "stick-with-it-ness" if you could find a friend to help you become less sedentary.

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