4 Pain-Friendly Outdoor Activities

Now that the sun is making an appearance, don't let pain keep you indoors. We've got four easy outdoor pain-friendly activities to let you enjoy your day in the sun.

1. Walk. Nothing's better for sore joints, achy muscles and overall health and well-being than walking.  It's the most natural, gentle and frequently recommended outdoor activity. 

  • Invest in athletic, hiking or walking shoes.
  • Start slowly by walking in your neighborhood or around the track.
  • Gradually increase your walking distance, pace or speed one at a time.
  • Try Nordic poles. Two walking sticks that bump up stability and add an upper-body cardio workout to your stroll.
  • When you're ready for more, grab a walking partner and head to the park or trailhead.

2. Golf can be adapted to be a pain-friendly outdoor activity for almost everyone.  In fact, professional golfer Phil Mickelson was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis (a painful, inflammatory form of arthritis) and continues to play at the top of his game. Start with a pre-link warm-up.  Arthritis Today recommends:

  • Arm Circles. Lift arms straight out to your sides at shoulder height. Move arms in a circular motion, gradually increasing the size of the circles. Reverse direction after 30 seconds.
  • Trunk twists. With arms at your sides and elbows bent at 90 degrees, twist your torso and head to the left as if you're looking over your shoulder and hold for five seconds. Be sure to twist from the waist. Return to starting position then twist to the right.
  • Side Bends. Place feet shoulder-width apart. Using both hands, hold a club at opposite ends and raise it above your head. Lean torso to one side to feel the stretch on the opposite side. Repeat 10 times on each side leaning torso a little farther each time.
  • Slow Swings. Take 10-15 slow three-quarter swings on the practice range before the first tee. Start out by hitting higher lofted clubs, like a pitching wedge, and begin by swinging 50 to 75 percent.

Talk to a golf pro about adaptive shoes, bags, clubs, tees and other equipment to help keep you on the green.

3. Fish. Whether your style is dock, fly or deep-sea fishing; there's no better way to enjoy the great outdoors than with a rod, reel and tackle.  Many boats, lakes and rivers have docks and ramps designed for people with disabilities.   

  • Do some pre-season conditioning, stretching and strengthening exercises so you can hike, cast, reel, and pull in a big one.
  • Choose the right fish. if you suffer from serious pain or instability, you might be better off fishing for trout than marlin.
  • Pack a light tackle box to avoid shoulder and hand pain
  • Take a collapsible chair and picnic. Prop up your pole and take it easy. Nothing's more pain-friendly than that.

4. Garden. With the right tools, gardening beds and patience, your days in the sun could yield big bouquets, baskets of veggies and hours of enjoyment. Whenever possible, use:

  • Proper body mechanics. Use your legs, not your back to do the heavy work. Use your palms, not your fingers to dig things out or put plants to bed.
  • Long-handled tools. They allow you to avoid too much bending and protect your knees.
  • Raised beds. They're easier on your back and knees and excellent for soil drainage and natural weed management.




Arthritis Today
Arthritis-Friendly Golf Gear
The right golf equipment can help keep you on the fairways.