Snowshoeing as an Activity for Arthritis To Stay Active in Winter

If you have arthritis or osteoarthritis, you know how your joints can hurt. Aches and pains galore. You may often wonder whether you should be moving them or not. However, research has shown that staying active and moving the joints can improve pain and physical outcomes. So, try to avoid sitting for endless hours throughout the day.

By moving your body, you increase the blood flow, which helps to lubricate the joints and reduce or relieve pain. Increasing your blood flow will also help your brain and may help improve Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Furthermore, keeping active in the winter can help reduce joint pain exacerbated by cold weather. Though, it’s still imperative to cover those extremities and dress appropriately.

So, if you’re looking for ways to stay active this winter and activities that can help your arthritis, here are a few tips to keep moving and try snowshoeing.

arthritis illustration: pain in hand, knee, ankle, shoulder

Getting the blood moving and staying active, including in the winter, can help arthritis pain. Photo: AKalenskyi via Shutterstock

Think Low-Impact

You want to think about low-impact activities for your arthritis first of all. You don’t want to jar the joints, yet you want to get them moving. For the best cardio, you want to keep one foot on the ground at all times.

Snowshoeing has many health benefits, one of which is that it is a low-impact activity. The snow provides a soft buffer for the ground, and there’s less pressure on your joints than other winter activities like skiing or snowboarding. You can also keep your snowshoe outings near home on the terrain in which you’re comfortable.

If your arthritis pain is severe, you can also try swimming or water aerobics. Water helps eliminate impact and helps soothe joints. Try to find saltwater pools instead of chemical-laden chlorine pools.

Riding a bike is another good low-impact exercise activity. If you aren’t physically capable of riding a bike, try a recumbent bike, especially if you have back pain or injuries. Recumbent bikes are fun, and some can be close to the floor if that’s a requirement.

Read More: Snowshoeing With a Knee Injury: A Journey Back to the Outdoors

Keep Steady

With arthritis, you want to avoid activities with many pivots, turns, stops, and starts.

Snowshoeing is at your own pace, so you can take it slow and easy on flat terrain. You don’t need to stick to a required pace, track, or speed when doing this activity. Plus, snowshoeing burns as many calories as jogging without the stress on your joints.  Try snowshoeing with poles if you want additional stability and relief on your joints.

Another activity to consider is tennis. Similar to snowshoeing, tennis is an excellent lifetime activity if you take it slow and easy. Many people with arthritis play tennis and just play a slower game. If you’ve never learned, it’s never too late. There are even tennis tournaments for people in their nineties.

For inside activities that will help the joints use an elliptical machine. It provides minimal impact and is safe for your joints. In addition, joints absorb shock, so avoid jarring when participating in whatever sport or activities you choose.

Read More: Snowshoeing for Seniors: Into Your 70s and Beyond

activities for arthritis: two seniors snowshoeing with trees and homes in background

Snowshoeing is a low-impact activity that you can take at your own pace that helps strengthen your muscles. Photo: Phovoir via Shutterstock

Build Strength

To help with your arthritis, you want to build up and tone the muscles surrounding your affected joints. For example, these could be muscles in the back, knees, or hips. Snowshoeing can also help exercise those muscles and maintain strength.

You can get significant arthritis pain relief and reduction by improving your posture and overall joint mobility. However, remember to take it at your own pace and consult a doctor if you have any pain.

Read More: Exercises To Improve Balance: One Foot at a Time

Overall

Follow some of the tips in this article and choose activities for arthritis to get your body moving as much as possible. You’ll start to notice less stiffness and joint pain and enjoy significant arthritis pain relief. There are many other exercises you can do to help lubricate the joints. But, keep moving is the most important advice for anyone with joint pain or arthritis. Remember that moving the body is the best joint lubricant.

What other activities do you recommend for arthritis? Have you given snowshoeing a try? Please share your insights with us in the comments below.

This article was first published on Mar 26, 2011. It was most recently updated on Sept 29, 2022. 

Read Next: How To Prevent Ankle Pain Before Snowshoeing

Author

  • Dr. Paul Burns

    Dr. Paul Burns is a Chiropractor specializing in pain management and sports injuries. He has worked with many college and pro teams, including the Denver Broncos, the ATP, and Wrangler Sports. His multidisciplinary practice is located in Englewood, CO, and offers the latest evidence-based practice methodology, techniques, and technology. For more information, visit www.drpaulburns.com.