Exercise Is Important When You Have Gout

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smiling senior man using exericse bike

During a gout attack, when you have swollen, painful joints, exercise may be the last thing on your mind—and that’s okay. In fact, resting is one of the best things you can do for your body during a gout attack. You want to avoid moving the affected joints as much as possible. Applying ice to your painful joints for about 20 minutes at a time will help reduce swelling.

On average, gout attacks last for about three to 10 days. You can go months or years before experiencing another one. During these times, when you feel well, exercise should be at the top of your to-do list.

How Exercise Can Help You

Want to reduce pain, increase your range of motion, and feel more energized? Exercise does all of that. Working out regularly will also help you lose weight, which is essential for people with gout. Excess weight increases the uric acid in your body, which contributes to gout. What’s more, losing weight will help reduce pain because you’ll have less stress on your joints.

Don’t forget about your heart: Getting enough exercise will help keep your ticker healthy, too. People with gout are sometimes at risk for heart disease.

Make Physical Activity a Part of Your Life

Check in with your doctor before starting an exercise program. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends adults do 150 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking, per week. An ideal exercise routine includes three components:

Aerobic exercise. These activities increase your heart rate and boost endurance. Aim to include some type of aerobic exercise in your program three to four times per week for about 30 minutes at a time. You could try walking or using a stationary bicycle. Or consider taking a dip. Swimming and exercising in warm water may feel good on stiff joints. You may find it’s easier to move your joints in the water than on land. Plus, the water supports your body and reduces wear and tear on your joints.

Flexibility exercise. These exercises help improve your range of motion. Increasing your flexibility will make other types of exercise easier and will help you move around more comfortably during your day. Try carving out 15 minutes to stretch every day. Move slowly and smoothly when you stretch.

Strengthening exercise. If you’ve been inactive because of painful and swollen joints, your muscles may be weak. Lifting weights and doing resistance exercises will help increase your strength. Stronger muscles support your joints and prevent injury. Go slow to prevent injury, and intensify your workout as you gain strength. As you get stronger, everyday activities such as climbing stairs and lifting heavy objects will become easier to do.

There are many different ways to build strength. For example, you could use free weights, elastic bands, or weight machines, or do exercises in a pool. Always stretch before doing any kind of strength training exercise. Remember to start slow: Begin with very light weights and gradually add more as you become stronger.

Ready to start easing your joint pain and improving flexibility? Visit arthritistoday.org for step-by-step instructions on how to do a variety of exercises that are safe for people with arthritis. Having a training partner provides companionship and safety. The most important thing is to find activities that you enjoy doing. Whether that’s yoga, hiking, or dancing, you’ll be more likely to stick with exercise if you’re having fun.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Jul 28
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