The best way to manage osteoarthritis through winter isn’t what you think! 32



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Osteoarthritis is the most chronic joint disease in Australia, affecting 1.8 million people across the country. It’s debilitating, can be painful and often restricts people from doing the every day things they love – but it doesn’t have to! Coming into winter, people are inclined to slow down, which can have a painful consequence. However, there is something that everyone can do to manage it and get ahead of the winter chill.




According to research from Novartis Consumer Health, who conducted a survey amongst people experiencing joint pain associated with ageing, 76% of people said they don’t use exercise or weight training to manage their symptoms. It has also been revealed that 68% of people with joint pain exercise less than they previously did.

The truth is that exercise is one of the greatest ways of managing osteoarthritis pain – you just have to know how it works best with your body!

Starts at 60 community member John Falkinder is 68 and has been living with Osteoarthritis in his left knee for about 20 years. When John began to experience pain from osteoarthritis, giving up his active lifestyle wasn’t an option so he has lived with a “use it or lose it” attitude ever since.




He developed his own program over four months that helped him to find a level of physical activity suited to his ability and pain management. After years of running, it wasn’t the most practical exercise anymore so he switched to jogging and walking. Over time, John was able to restore movement around his knee joint by using his own exercise program including aerobic and resistance fitness.

The wealth of knowledge that John has developed in managing his own osteoarthritis through exercise is invaluable and so he’s been sharing it with other over 60s! He started a website called and helps other people to enjoy ageing while staying active.




John believes that switching exercise routines every six to eight weeks helps to keep things fresh. He uses a variety of exercises including body surfing, swimming, rowing and cycling as well as walking and jogging to keep his cardio up and enjoys working out at a gym.

John is proof that osteoarthritis shouldn’t mean you stop exercising. In fact, he’s probably doing more exercise now; it’s just a different type!

This winter, don’t hibernate and instead get out there and try moving more. Choose some easy going exercises to start with and work towards more vigorous workouts.

If you haven’t been active in a while, try some of the following tips to get into it again:

  • Walk around the neighbourhood for 30 minutes a day, a few times a week and build up frequency or distance over time
  • If you live near a heated pool, gentle swimming is a great way to keep moving without straining joints
  • Start and end your day with whole body stretches to get the muscles around joints in good shape
  • Use topical cream to manage pain before or after exercising
  • Take warm showers after exercising to relax the muscles and ice any joints that may be sore
  • Do it with a friend – it always makes it more enjoyable!

So tell us, do you exercise regularly? Have you used it to manage your joint pain? What has your experience been?

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. I do a gentle form of yoga daily & take fish oil, flaxseed oil & the natural progesterone cream has made an amazing improvement in my life!!

  2. I started warm water exercise this year in late January. I do it twice a week in Bendigo thru the Bendigo Arthritis Club and I feel more flexible easier to get around. You can check thru Arthritis Victoria where some of these classes are held! Its oneof the best decisions I have made 🙂

  3. I have just been diagnosed with osteoarthritis in my spine, lower lumbar region. At the moment any form of exercise brings on muscle spasms that are absolute agony and totally debilitating. What is out there for spinal problems like mine ? I have been unable to find much of any help.

    4 REPLY
    • Me too, Trevor. It’s a bugger, isn’t it? If you find anything that helps, let me know. I did get a bit of relief from a physio who used a strange looking machine with suction caps on me, otherwise …. zilch.

    • Gail Gapes, the Tumeric users group are all closed groups so you can’t see what they are up to without joining the group. something I tend to avoid. Being a big curry eater I feel I get plenty anyway, unless you are supposed to adorn the area with it.

    • Go to your physiotherapist ,and hopefully he -she will be as wonderful as mine!!! She isy drug!, my saviour!! she is my everything!! She made a plan of special exercise for me to do in our beautiful heated council pool!! And without this I wouldn’t even be living the life I have!!!!

    • Google Tumeric…. There are many suggestions & recipes available. Just make sure you add a small amount of black pepper so that the curcumin is more accessible to your body.

  4. Lucky John – only got it in his knee. I’ve got it in both knees, hands, neck, plus osteo spurs on my spine! Makes it a bit difficult to do any of the exercises mentioned here. The only one I’d consider is swimming, but not in any public pool, thank you! Sea water is best – but I live hundreds of kms from the coast so …. !

  5. At 69 I have been exercising like John for years. I go four times a week to Active Seniors exercise physiologists in Gordon NSW. It is great at keeping the osteoarthritis damaged joints in my knees, neck, lower back and shoulders strong and supple. It is very true, ‘use it or lose it.’

  6. I haI have just spoken to my doc last week about possible osteoarthritis in the spine as I have it in both knees as well as RA. Also had knee replacement 3 months ago. He advised that I should try to strengthen the back & abdominal muscles. Maybe try some pilates, perhaps moderating to my pain level.

    1 REPLY
    • Leighton I really recommend plates on a reformer if you can access one. It provides core strengthening with support however try to do the first few sessions with instruction.

  7. Gardening does it for me, lifting, stretching all muscles are used. Nights are the worst, when my body cools down. Wow. My elder sister has my sympathy, she has osteo in the spine and has fractures on fractures. She still keeps moving and will not give in. By the way have lost a considerable amount of weight from the gardening exercising. Win, win.

    1 REPLY
    • Gardening does it for me as well, and going for walks with my husband & our 11yr old Labrador, but not much weight loss.

  8. I have had physio classes where I did some exercises and also just walking across the pool. Its a big help. Also not eating bread for a week. I was walking so much easier. I may have an intolerance to wheat. This might not work for others.

    1 REPLY
    • I have cut out all grains and sugar and now have no pain
      I have been able to cut out panadol oesteo. When I sit for too long I do get a bit stiff but it soon goes as I move around

  9. Ii have used a combination of free weights training, daily cardio and clinical pilates on a reformer supervised by a physiotherapist for the last 4 years to manage severe hip OA, on average I spend 2 hours per day performing solid exercise. During this time I skiied FT for 6 to 8 weeks per year and alpine hiked regularly in NZ. I have just had my hip resurfaced as the damage had deteriorated to the degree where I could no longer physically exercise and was at risk of dislocation. My daily routine prolonged my activity levels and quality of life. Using clinical pilates really preserved my activity levels while my hip joint deteriorated. Arguably my best skiing was done last year (not pain free but enjoyable never the less). The mantra for OA should be ‘use it or lose it’.

  10. How do get through the pain when you exercise? Apart from hips and kness also have planta fiscitis used to be a dance teacher? Then loved to cook but even standing on one spot chopping hursts

    1 REPLY
    • Roseanna I needed to warm up well I found the Elliptical really lubricated my hip joints with synovial fluid (one of my issues was that my hip joint wasn’t sealed -labial tears, and had reduced fluid to lubricate the joint). I warmed up properly when I did heavy weights, I put up with a certain amount of pain knowing that I was building muscle to support my hip joint. After weights I use the elliptical to lubricate the joint finishing off with the pilates reformer to maintain flexibility of my now warmed up joint. It’s a matter of knowing the type of pain that is not damaging And having a routine that doesnt overly stress the OA joint until it is fully warmed up. I had grumbly pain every day but it was never a sharp pain. As the workout progressed it would mostly go away giving relief that lasted through the day. As I became stronger the pain was managable without meds. It’s important to start off slowly and stop if the pain is sharp. With exercise I managed to maintain full range of motion and strength such that I could still lead an active life until my hip resurfacing op. It wasn’t easy and it certainly wasn’t pain free but the benefits to my quality of life was worth it for me. In the end it wasn’t the lack of hip functionality that drove me to the op. But the end stage night pain due to a dry eroded hip joint. Without the daily exercise program I estimate that I would have been dysfunctional and inactive years earlier.

      1 REPLY

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