8 Ways to Stay Active This Winter With Arthritis

Lingering winter days can sometimes drive us crazy pent up indoors. If you have joint pain, here are a few ideas to keep you going.

The first snowfall of winter enchants many people with its crisp, still beauty. But, as the days turn into weeks and old man winter drags on, it’s easy to start feeling stir crazy.

If you suffer from joint pain, winter’s grip can feel even worse because you’re limited by the activities you can comfortably perform. If that’s you, here are 8 fresh ideas to help you stay active and inspired as you await those first signs of springtime.

1. Give yourself a laugh. Let’s face it, laughing is fun. Not only that, it offers all kinds of benefits from boosting your immune system to reducing anxiety and improving your mood.1-3 Playing a game can be a great source of laughter. If you feel like staying in, why not invite family or friends to a game night at your place. Don’t feel like having a bunch of people around? Challenge your spouse or neighbor to a good old fashion 1-1 game of Checkers. 

2. Get cooking. Cold winter days are a great time to stay in and whip up something new in the kitchen. Feel like you’re in a rut always cooking the same old foods? Try a cooking class. Your local grocery store might even offer small cooking classes but, if not, a quick internet search will yield many options for you to choose from online. The smell of homemade food cooking on a cold day is an added aromatic benefit.

Don’t feel like grocery shopping? Services like Hello Fresh and Blue Apron offer meal plans and ingredients delivered right to your door. Many of these types of meal plan services even offer plans for dietary restrictions.

3. Walk (and shop) at the mall. If you’re sick of being at home, but it’s too cold to walk outside, try going to a shopping mall or large store. You can log all kinds of steps simply meandering around for a while. Or, just the simple act of going shopping can get you out of the house and active without it really feeling like exercise. Plus, it can be kind of fun.

4. Do your spring-cleaning early. Whoever came up with the idea of cleaning your entire house once it finally gets nice outside was crazy. When it finally starts warming up, we want to be outside enjoying the spring air. Why not get all those nooks and crannies of your house clean while it’s gloomy and raining outside. Then, it’ll be done when springtime rolls around.

5. Join a gym. This might sound a little cliché, but joining a gym can actually provide many solid winter activities. Stationary cycling, swimming, water aerobics, and water walking are all great activities for many people with joint pain, and many gyms offer these types of exercises. Of course, ask your doctor what exercises are right for your specific condition.

6. Get in touch with your inner “OM”. Yoga is known for offering many benefits to both your mind and body. Even better, many yoga studios offer arthritis friendly classes. Ask your doctor if Yoga is right for you and what kinds of motion may exacerbate your pain.

7.  Exercise your creative side. Need a creative outlet? Why not try your hand at pottery making, painting, or photography? Or, try writing that book you’ve thought about for the last 5 years but haven’t gotten to yet. Many libraries have book clubs and writer’s clubs you could join to be around other people pursuing similar endeavors.  

8. Try Birdwatching. While it may not keep you super physically active, birdwatching can give you a fun mental workout. Using a bird species field guide, keep a journal of the species you see. To add a little physical movement to the hobby, put out bird feeders. You might be surprised by all the species you are able to find in your own back yard! And, what a beautiful landscape it can create. 

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1. Bennett, M. and Lengacher, C. (2009). Humor and Laughter May Influence Health IV. Humor and Immune Function. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 6(2): 159-164.

2. Bennett, M. and Lengacher, C. (2008). Humor and Laughter May Influence Health III. Laughter and Health Outcomes. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 5(1): 37-40.

3. Stress Management (2019, Apr 5). Mayo Clinic. www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relief/art-20044456

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