Best Exercises and Activity Tips for People with Gout

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Gout is a chronic condition that requires lifelong treatment because there’s no cure for it. One of the management strategies recommended by many health care providers is getting active.

Several studies have proved exercise can alter the trajectory of many diseases due to their impact on physiology, including mental well-being. Let’s delve into how a gout exercise routine can improve the state of those with this long-term inflammatory illness, those who might at risk of gout, and the best and safest types of movements appropriate for these people.

Is It Safe to Exercise With Gout?

Exercise is a basic tenet of a healthy lifestyle and is completely OK for people with gout, though you’ll do some things differently to make it safer. As always, before you embark on any exercise program, a good way to get started is first with a discussion with your health care professional.

Let’s explore the benefits of physical activity for individuals living with this condition.

Reduce Inflammation

One study on animal models found that low and moderate-intensity exercise can trigger a robust inflammatory response and minimize inflammation. Researchers believe the same benefits can be applied to gout patients. Fitness has a long list of upsides, especially low impact exercise — others even call it a miracle drug because of its ability to boost all facets of health in several ways.

So, don’t think an incidence of gout as a hindrance to increasing your daily physical fitness.

Lower Uric Acid Levels

Where there is excess uric acid in the body, or the kidneys don’t filter enough out, it can build up and cause uric acid crystals to form in and around joints. These crystals can create painful joints due to inflammation.

In a review, physical activities influence uric acid levels by regulating fat metabolism, the expression of uric acid excretion protein and antioxidant enzymes. Moving can help treat and prevent hyperuricemia — a condition where you have too much uric acid levels in the body. It’s not an alarming condition, but it’s a risk factor for gout and other associated severe outcomes.

Extend Life Span

High uric acid levels are associated with increased mortality risks — and physical exercise has been shown to provide a protective barrier against this. Simply moving your body from the couch to a powered treadmill can help you live longer.

One study found that people with high uric acid are at an elevated risk of death due to inactivity. Meanwhile, fully active patients reduced their mortality by 11%, proving that fitness can negate the downsides of irregular uric acid levels. Overall, exercise can extend life by 4-6 years.

An active lifestyle has tremendous health benefits, allowing you to treat, prevent, and manage gout or its risks. Moreover, it’s not just the physical health that improves, but also psychological, which can worsen gout flare-ups.

Types of Exercise Recommended for Gout

What gout exercise can make you feel better? Try these different types of movement, from mild to intense, to see which exercise plan works best for you, and offers the best positive effect.

1. Low-impact Aerobic Exercises

These are movements that can pass as hobbies. It rarely feels like you’re exercising because you’re having fun enjoying daily activities. Examples include:

  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Cycling
  • Circuit training
  • Elliptical machine
  • Gardening
  • Cleaning home areas

Good for cardiovascular and overall health, these drills are gentle on the joints and safe for those with gout. If you have a few minutes in the morning, go for a walk, cycle, or start watering your treasured plants. The simple action of taking a step repeated several times is an excellent way to sweat it out.

2. Range-Of-Motion Exercises

Another type of movement is one that challenges your overall flexibility and range of motion. Two excellent examples are yoga and stretching — both are mild exercises that don’t put the affected joint under overwhelming pressure.

One review found that general flexibility exercises like yoga can reduce pain and improve function in people with gout and other rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases. One doesn’t need high-intensity exercise to benefit from the activity.

Severe pain caused by gout attacks can provoke joint stiffness and result in a limited range of mobility. By stretching and doing yoga poses, you can increase your strength, flexibility, and balance to support arthritic joints. On top of that, it can help keep your weight at a healthy level in the first place, thereby diminishing the pressure on affected areas when standing.

3. Strengthening Exercises

Gentle resistance training gives you the same upsides as aerobics and flexibility exercises. Here are some you can try:

  • Wall press
  • Sit to stand, squat
  • Lying bridge
  • Resistance bands movements
  • Modified bodyweight exercises
  • Water aerobics

Giving your stretches a fresh spin in the pool is a great way to stay active. Your body is buoyant in water, preventing you from making abrupt movements — which is beneficial for avoiding joint pressure. Moreover, the effects of cardio in a pool are 12%–14% higher than in the land.

Modify your gout exercise routine based on your health condition so strength training remains safe while doing your best to prevent future attacks.

4. Balance Exercises

Balance training, like tai chi, tree pose, standing leg raises, and heel-to-toe walk can be very beneficial and only uses your body weight. You may need to get an instructor for tai chi classes, but you can do the other movements on your own, paying attention to how you feel every time you execute them to dodge injury.

Safety Precautions To  Keep In Mind

Remember these safety tips to avoid exacerbating gout inflammation.

  • Rest during gout flare-ups: Don’t engage in any physical activities, as they can only worsen the pain. Instead, ice the area to reduce inflammation.
  • Modify or change your exercise routine: Protecting your joints comes first. Be gentle, listen to your body and don’t overexert. Do a modified pose or movement to stay safe and comfortable. Avoid placing too much stress on your body when it won’t take it.
  • Build up a gout exercise routine: To skip injuries, never go straight to the meat of your physical training, as it may stress your joints. Warm up first, do a low-impact aerobic or stretch, then move on to strengthening exercise before finally cooling down.
  • Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water before and after working out. The body loses plenty of fluids during training, so replenish by sipping more water, avoiding soft drinks.
  • Work with a coach: Talk to your physical therapist about what exercises are safe and appropriate for your current health situation. Relay this information to your fitness coach so they can customize a routine that will improve your health.
gout exercises
Courtesy Unsplash

Lifestyle Changes to Support Exercise for Gout

There is no cure, but you can treat it by getting the symptoms of gout under control. One non-pharmacological way to do it is by leading a healthy lifestyle. Here are some suggestions.

1. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Being obese or carrying excess weight is not good for your general health and puts a lot of stress on your knee and toe joints. By adding regular gout exercise for weight loss to your routine, you can stay within a normal body mass index and reduce the risk of flare-ups. Even moderate exercise can help.

2. Eat a Healthy Diet

Foods are medicines —- nutritious vegetables and fruits can strengthen the immune system and help your body heal, whereas the wrong ones can worsen your condition. Avoid purine-rich foods like organ meat, red meat and seafood for gout. Stuff up on wholesome food choices.

3. Get Enough Sleep

Lack of sleep is a recipe for severe symptoms. If you have nights of insomnia or sleep disturbances, talk to your healthcare provider about it. Sleep deprivation can be a symptom of another co-occurring condition with gout. Informing your doctor will allow them to find a fix for it.

4. Manage Stress

Like sleep deprivation, stress can take a gout flare from manageable to acute, causing intense pain. Diseases of the mind are transferable to the body, so attend a program that teaches stress regulation skills to better control your symptoms and the factors causing the triggers, such as work.

5. Attend Checkups Regularly

Show up to your doctor’s office to track the progress of the treatment plan and manage gout’s co-existing conditions like heart disease or diabetes. Gout is uncurable, so you can only manage it. The best way to do that is to attend your doctor’s annual or quarterly summons to give you a health update.

Boost Gut Health With Regular Exercise

Movement can change the course of a chronic health condition for the better, so doctors always advise exercise as a supplementary treatment. It’s the miracle drug that has a broad list of health merits, from gout to overall cardiovascular health.

While gout is a troublesome lifelong condition, you can live well and have an elevated quality of life if you stick to the treatment plan, take anti-inflammatory medications and lead an active lifestyle. Manage painful gout symptoms by doing safe exercise.

About the Author

Beth Rush

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Beth Rush

Beth Rush is the Managing Editor and Content Manager at Body+Mind.

Body+Mind features articles about diet, fitness, mental health, parenting and health care.