Getting started with exercise

What do I need to get started?

Getting started with exercise

You don’t always need special equipment to exercise, and a lot of things can be done around your home, using apps, YouTube videos, DVDs, and your own furniture.

It’s important to be comfortable when you’re active, and this includes having the right clothing and footwear. This doesn’t mean you need to spend money on specialist fitness wear, but wearing loose fitting clothes while you exercise will help you move. Try not to choose anything too baggy, as you don’t want to wear anything that might get in the way.

It’s a good idea to have some well-fitting, comfortable footwear too. This may be trainers which offer support and help absorb any shocks and protect your joints, especially if you’re doing quite strenuous exercise.

Keeping hydrated helps our bodies keep cool, so it’s important to make sure you drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise to reduce the risk of dehydration.

Warming up and cooling down

It’s important to warm up before you exercise, as this helps your body prepare for exercise and reduces the risk of injury. A warm-up should increase your heart rate and body temperature, which helps your muscles get ready for exercise.

A warm-up should include some of the movements or activity you’re about to do. For example, you could walk, cycle, jog or swim gently and gradually increase the effort you put in until you’re a bit out of breath.

After you’ve exercised you can repeat some of the movements you did in your warm-up to help cool your body down. This will help reduce stiff joints or muscles after exercise.

How do I stay motivated?

It can be difficult to stay motivated once you start being active but there are a few things you can do to help you keep moving:

  • Do an activity that you enjoy.
  • Set realistic goals – and remember that it’s normal for these to change as your condition changes.
  • Do it regularly so it becomes a habit.
  • Try being active with a family member or friend.
  • Remember to reward yourself when you reach your goals.

It’s important to start off slowly and gradually build up, as if you start too fast you might find the activity painful and be put off.

To build up your activity, try to gradually increase the following:

  • frequency - how often you do it
  • duration - the length of time you spend exercising
  • intensity - how hard you try.

Do I need to see a doctor or physiotherapist?

You don’t always need to see a healthcare professional to get started with exercise, as long as you take things slowly and listen to your body. If you have any concerns or worries, a healthcare professional, personal trainer or fitness instructor may be able to help.

If you’re worried about starting a new activity plan, you might want to speak to a healthcare professional, such as a doctor or physiotherapist, first. They may even be able to give you some advice or specific exercises to try.

For some conditions, you might be referred to a physiotherapist. They can help you put together a specific exercise plan to help you manage and reduce your symptoms. They’ll also be able to help you improve your general fitness through regular exercise.

You can also find out more about specific exercise advice for your type of arthritis on our conditions pages.