New years resolutions frustrated by COVID (again)

Sophie Heywood

2022 looked like it might have been our chance to tackle our health challenges and get fit again but the start of the year has been limited by another surge of COVID-19 infections. Our thoughts are with those who are unwell and our healthcare colleagues that are working so hard in our hospitals.

To those of your who have reached out, wanting to start an exercise program for your arthritis but feeling that now isn't exactly the right time to head to your local pool, we have some tips for getting started at home.

1. Any start is a good start and getting out of a chair is a fantastic exercise for hips and knees. It is great for leg coordination, joint control and getting your gluteals (hip muscles) and quadriceps (front thigh muscles) working. Do the exercises every second day, start slow and with low repetitions (even starting with five is fine or try one-minute at your own pace) and write down how many you do and how it feels afterward. Pain is normal with exercise when you have arthritis. Use Arthritis Australia's two hour pain rule and do less next time if you're sore for longer than a couple of hours after your session. your pain system will become less sensitive to your new exercise routine with time and this is when you can start to increase the numbers of exercise you're doing. Over 3-4 weeks you may be able to build up to 3-4 x 10 but for some people this will take longer. Use a higher chair to start or use your arms to help you up if you need to. Aim to keep your knees over your toes and the movement slow and controlled.

2. Start tracking your daily step count using an activity tracker like a fitbit or a garmin or apple watch. You can also use a pocket pedometer or one that your can clip to your clothes which can be less expensive. The value in tracking your steps is to add a little extra each week. Find out more about working out how far, how long or how fast to walk here or see this research which shows 6000 steps is the goal for those with knee arthritis to improve how you are going.

If want to then move on to doing a class from a video online, COTA Living Stronger has an exercise series and some strength training options. As always, checking in with your local physiotherapist or health care professional is the best way to get started with exercises and important if you have any new health issues. This is general advice only.

Best wishes for your health and fitness this year.