Exercise and Gout

Gout and Exercise

The Importance of Exercise For The Gout Sufferer

It’s a new year and yes the time for new year’s resolutions and what is the most popular new year’s resolution for people? Yes, exercise! Lose weight! Eat better! Most of you though will subscribe to a gym in January, only to give it up after a couple of months or when spring comes around and that good weather makes you lazier to get your butt in the gym. But if you have gout, you have to exercise. Let me repeat myself for emphasis added: “If you have gout, you should be exercising. Period.” So make it a new year’s resolution and change your bad habit of not exercising and get moving! You don’t need a gym to exercise, you can do it from the comfort of your own home or outdoors where it costs you nothing. We all know the benefits of exercise like improving the fitness of your heart, lungs, bone strength, mental well-being, improves energy levels and your sleep!

So you ask me the question, how can I exercise when I suffer from gout and my joints are so sensitive? And I reply to you that a lack of exercise will only worsen the disease and intensify the pain of gout down the road. Why? Because since your joints hurt, that makes you less likely to get up moving or exercising. This inactivity makes you less flexible, weakens your joints and muscles which can result in bone loss by the way intensifying the painful symptoms of gout. Exercise will keep you in shape, helping you maintain an ideal healthy weight, will increase your energy and will help you build strong bones, joints and muscles which gout slowly deteriorates over time. At the end, exercise will promote faster healing from gout attacks. A 2008 study on gout and exercise stated that men who ran 5 miles per day had 50% less occurrence of developing gout than least active men.

Combining my gout diet tips from my ebook Gout and You: The Ultimate Gout Diet & Cookbook and exercise, there is no way you are not lowering your uric acid levels, no way! That being said, you should not employ crash diets or overexercise causing rapid weight loss. Losing weight too quickly can actually have the opposite effect and cause your uric acid levels to rise. Rule #1 before we move any further, if you are suffering from a gout attack and/or your joint is inflamed regardless if it’s due to a gout attack or not, do not exercise! Exercising during a gout attack and/or when a joint is inflamed will worsen your condition by causing you more pain and lengthening your inflammation. Listen to your body signals and only exercise when the flare up, gout attack or inflammation is over and begin gradually, building up slowly again. On a side-note, exercise has no effect whatsoever on breaking up uric acid crystals or tophi for that matter, just lowering uric acid levels and keeping them low.

NutriGout Dietary Supplement for Gout

 

So What Kind of Exercises Can I Do?

There are 4 major areas you should be covering in your exercise regimen:

  • Range of Motion Exercises: Which consist of keeping your joints flexible and mobile in order to reduce stiffness, a good motion exercise for your foot is to rotate your ankle in a circular motion. Other exercises include rotating your head and neck, ankles or wrists.
  • Strength Exercises: Devised to increase and maintain the strength of your muscles by using weights or doing resistance exercises. Remember strong muscles help to support and take the pressure off sore joints, strengthening your bones. Consider yoga or tai chi as low impact strength exercising, see stretching exercises below.
  • Endurance or Cardiovascular Exercises: These exercises are will help improve your heart, increasing blood circulation, controlling your weight and giving your energy a boost. It is important to choose low impact aerobic exercises like walking, stair climbing, dancing, cycling which I love doing and swimming. Swimming offers the best aerobic exercise for the gout sufferer since this exercise does not put any stress on your joints since you’re moving in water.
  • Stretching Exercises: This will help your flexibility as well as your muscle strength. Yoga, pilates and tai chi are the most popular. Examples include muscle stretches and moving a joint as far as you can.

Finally, make sure to consult your doctor before embarking on an exercise regimen, your doctor will need to take a few things to account like gout stage and the severity of your gout as well as which joints are commonly afflicted so you don’t inflame them even more then you should. Depending on your condition, your doctor may recommend different exercises like swimming instead of running, or using ellipticals instead cause remember most gout sufferers get gout attacks in the big toe affecting the foot area, so you have to watch your feet while exercising, trust me I’ve learned the hard way by over running and causing painful swelling on my feet. A physiotherapist or exercise physiologist can help you by suggesting safe exercises as well.

Remember strenuous exercise can increase uric acid in the blood. How so? By not staying well hydrated you can trigger a gout attack if you’re not careful. I’ve said this many times, make sure to drink plenty of water, not gatorade but plain water! Try and exercise at least a minimum of 30 minutes a day for at least 5 days a week. In the beginning, you may need to start with shorter sessions and then build slowly afterwards. Whatever you do, make sure to add some exercise in your daily life, it’ll make a big difference in your overall health as well as your gout.

Posted by Spiro Koulouris

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68 Comments

  • Rashmeet Rajpal

    Reply Reply March 22, 2018

    Hey Spiro, Hello I’m suffering from huge pain and inflammation on my right knee since a year. At starting I thought it is may be my ligament tear(ACL) after getting MRI, it was found nothing my Dr. Told me this is just cuz of exerction in knee as I use to do a lot of workout in gym. Since then I have left my gym it’s been a year and my body weight jumped from 78kg to 100Kg. I have visited many bone doctors but no one told me about gout. But last week I visited doctor in Mumbai India, he told me this is may be the case of gout, suggested me to have uric acid test which comes out to be 7.2 ( the upper top limit), I still have lot of pain on my knee and it is not on same place sometime it pains to the right of knee, sometimes to left and my toe (knee cup bone) is also paning.. my doctor went out in an emergency, since then I haven’t shown him my reports. Kindly help me & I really want to get in shape again and want to get back to my gym.

    • Spiro Koulouris

      Reply Reply March 22, 2018

      Hi Rashmeet!

      Go seek the advice of at least 2 rheumatologists and take it from there. Very hard to give you any advice. The only thing you can control is your diet and lifestyle. You are exercising so that’s good but try and follow the principles of the 80-10-10 gout diet I talk about on this website and book. Also don’t take any of those whey proteins or creatine since you go to the gym. Too much protein strains the kidneys causing uric acid levels to rise. Replace meat protein and whey protein with beans instead. You don’t need much protein. Check out my article on Gout and Whey Protein too.

  • Char

    Reply Reply March 15, 2018

    I’m suffering gout for almost a year , at first I thought it was simple pain on my foot because of my whole day cycling activity until I visit a doctor recently and realized I have a gout. Can I still do my cycling activity when the pain subsides? or should I lessen my cycling?

    • Spiro Koulouris

      Reply Reply March 16, 2018

      Yes wait until pain and inflammation leaves entirely before cycling again. You are simply prolonging the swelling even longer by cycling while suffering.

  • Ashutosh Roy

    Reply Reply March 2, 2018

    I’m 27 years and I got my result of uric acid it’s 8.5 and I have little pain in the left upper corner of my left leg knee.
    So can I do leg workout? If it will not cause any issue, like leg press and squats.
    This is the first time my uric acid level is high; so please help me on this I’m afraid.

    • Spiro Koulouris

      Reply Reply March 2, 2018

      Not for now. Wait till the pain and inflammation subsides and then continue gradually.

  • Arnold

    Reply Reply February 21, 2018

    Hey man, can you help me?
    I’m in my 40s and remember having gout in my early 30s but it was just my toe…it hurt like hell but after it was gone and I quit eating certain foods (eg shrimp) I was fine (I think). I never got blood tests after that…so I don’t know.

    But now I went and sprained my ankle (it seemed way too easy to sprain it, but that’s what the doc said) a year ago and it seemed to just never heal. It healed some, but never fully and I kept reinjuring it or something…it’s become a chronic disabilitating condition that seems to have actually altered my ankle’s appearance and caused my leg to wither (one is much thinner than the other now).

    Before that sprain, I was exercising with powerlifting and kickboxing and noticed some weaknesses and mobility limitations in the foot…but I was still able to perform.

    Could this be recurrent gout?

    If so, what do I do in regards to getting back to lifting weights and kickboxing…or, are these activities out of my life forever (if indeed I’ve got gout in my ankle)?

    Thank you for your reply!

    • Spiro Koulouris

      Reply Reply February 21, 2018

      It might. Best to go visit your doctor and go do some blood tests to see where your uric acid level is at. If it’s not gout you are cleared. Could be some form of inflammation that could leave if you treat it effectively.

      If it is gout then you can still lift weights and do kickboxing on a proper gout treatment regimen.

      I hope you don’t have it of course. But go check yourself.

  • Larry

    Reply Reply February 15, 2018

    Hi Spiro,

    I am a new gout sufferer. I also have hypertension which I have been on meds for a number of years. Because of my hypertension I have tried to stick with cardio type exercise particularly jogging on the treadmill. After getting my first gout flare up I went looking for something that didn’t involve the constant pounding of the feet and so I bought a rowing machine. Your feet are stationary but you can get a nice low impact cardio work out. It works core and legs and shoulders too. When my feet can take it, I alternate between the rower and the treadmill. Just thought I would share.

    • Arnold

      Reply Reply February 22, 2018

      Thank you so much Spiro, I appreciate it.

  • Syron Macasadia

    Reply Reply February 15, 2018

    Hello I have a gout on my right wrist.. Is it ok to have some heavy weights or some bench press?

  • Shashank

    Reply Reply February 1, 2018

    Hi Spiro,

    I first suffered from Gout around 2 months ago. I took Alupurinol for a month, but my Uric acid levels remained at 7.7. Another doctor then gave me a potassium based medicine (K-Flam) which is supposed to be more effective.

    The gout frequency has reduced to once in 2 weeks. But this is still very annoying obviously. I’ve maintained diet and am actively involved with sports for at least 1 hour everyday (squash, badminton and cricket). Why does this keep re-occuring?

    Please help.

    • Spiro Koulouris

      Reply Reply February 1, 2018

      You have to be patient, it takes at least 1 year for the uric acid crystals to melt, so be patient and follow your doctor’s advice. Plus do frequent blood tests to measure your performance.

      • Jim

        Reply Reply March 9, 2018

        I have heard from other sources that the crystals never go away. What is truth of the matter? Thanks.

        • Spiro Koulouris

          Reply Reply March 9, 2018

          Hi Jim!

          Yes they can go away. Check out this 2007 study to learn more–>https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1954685/

  • Aswin

    Reply Reply January 29, 2018

    Hello,

    I was an active runner for more than a year. I train for marathons and cover around 100 kms per month. I recently had inflammation on my foot and went to doctor. My blood test showed high uric acid levels. The doctor suspected Gout and prescribed Allopurinol 40 mg. Even after taking the medicine for more than 2 months, my uric acid levels too came down and is 4mg/ml. Still I am feeling slight pain in my foot. I have stopped running completely. How long will it be for my pain to go completely and return to my active running ?

    • Spiro Koulouris

      Reply Reply January 29, 2018

      Very hard to predict Aswin! Depends how bad your inflammation is. Pain in your foot while running can be a permanent thing. For me if I do any hard running , I feel it the next few days. If I jog, it’s relatively light for a few minutes. I do more biking instead since it’s better for my joints.

  • Hrithik

    Reply Reply January 14, 2018

    Hi!

    I had a gout attack one and a half years ago after that I’m trying to maintain a healthy uric acid level and had no gout attacks since then but is there any permanent cure for it, like going back to normal and back to eating and drinking.

    • Spiro Koulouris

      Reply Reply January 14, 2018

      You will have to eat a disciplined gout diet in order to maintain healthy uric acid levels. Even if you take medication, if you go back to eating unhealthy and drinking lots of alcohol for example, your health will just deteriorate as well as your gout. This is a lifestyle change that you have to decide to make.

  • Gautam Pai

    Reply Reply November 6, 2017

    Hi Spiro!

    I’ve had a gout attack once which stopped after a couple of days. My uric acid level was 7.7 (range of 3 to 7). With medication lasting a month, my uric acid levels are now below 5. Does this mean I’m out of trouble? Also, I’ve cut out alcohol from my diet. Would one night of partying spoil it all?

    • Spiro Koulouris

      Reply Reply November 6, 2017

      Hi Gautam!

      Yes one night of drinking hard can lead to a gout attack, so watch out, I wouldn’t do it if I were you. Now if you take your daily allopurinol you should be fine but remember that drinking and not improving your diet and lifestyle can lead to other gout complications like kidney stones, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, sleep apnea and many more. Tread carefully!

  • Ravi Sharma

    Reply Reply September 28, 2017

    Hi Spiro, first things first – Thank you for a great article and secondly for replying to everyone so promptly .I am 34 year old and I have been quite fit for long, but I’ve now had gout for the past 5 year and It has deteriorated the quality of my strength training completely.

    I have been on Allopurinol 100mg for more than a year now and I’m about to start taking BCAA and whey protein (isolate) to improve my workout quality. Do you think this will / may trigger gout? Should I increase the dosage of Allopurinol? Any / all advice is appreciated.

    • Spiro Koulouris

      Reply Reply September 28, 2017

      Hi Ravi!

      Yes too much protein will affect your kidneys which in turn will affect your uric acid levels to go higher. This can trigger a gout attack. Best to monitor your uric acid levels by asking your doctor to do blood tests and see how the whey protein is affecting it in order to change allopurinol dosage.

  • Erich

    Reply Reply September 15, 2017

    I’ve been dealing with my first ever gout flareup for 9 weeks now. By (eventually) cutting out everything from my diet but chicken, coffee ,water, vegetables, and the remedies like lemon juice and apple cider vinegar. I’ve cut all fruit sugars, grains and starches. It’s reduced swelling for a few weeks now but still, the flareup won’t end. It rotates between feet and anytime I try anything from the “old menu” or step wrong, one or both feet swell and the pain comes right back.

    How do I get this flareup to end?! I was a daily runner before this and am a good fit body weight. I think i just ate too rich and drank too many beers. Will I ever be able to indulge again?

    Thanks, any advice helps. This is crazy.

    • Spiro Koulouris

      Reply Reply September 15, 2017

      Hi Erich!

      If you have suffered from previous gout attacks in your feet, then you should know that from time to time you can feel pain and swelling, either from drastic weather changes and/or sports related activities that strain your feet. As a gout sufferer I recommend you cycle more than running. It puts less pressure on your feet. There are many other ways to stay fit without putting that excess pressure on your feet like swimming for example. Again remain disciplined in your diet and avoid alcohol completely.

  • David

    Reply Reply August 22, 2017

    Hi:

    I notice all of these comments refer to gout in the foot. Do you have any suggestions for those with gout in the elbows. I want to return to weight training to build my arms again but without stressing the elbows.
    Please advise.

    Cheers,

    -d

    • Spiro Koulouris

      Reply Reply August 23, 2017

      Hi David!

      Light weights until your elbows are strong enough to lift more without the pain. Nothing much else to do. Give your elbows at least a day or more of rest in between workouts as well.

  • sarah

    Reply Reply May 24, 2017

    Hi!

    I am 21, I have just been diginosed with gout and I cannot walk properly. Will I ever be able to walk properly again?

    • Hi Sarah!

      Yes if you treat, you will be fine. Have you seen your doctor yet? Best to go see them as soon as possible.

  • Michael G

    Reply Reply February 27, 2017

    I had a gout attack 3 weeeks ago. took meds for a few days and got injections. I drink a gallon a day and been eating better since. When would it be safe to start working out again? I didn’t break any bones just gout on my left foot which the pain 95% went away.

    • Spiro Koulouris

      Reply Reply February 27, 2017

      Hi Michael!

      It depends what type of exercise you do. If you do any upper body strength exercises, you can probably start now but let your foot heal 100% before embarking on running or any other exercises involving your feet.

  • Sue Tutt

    Reply Reply February 19, 2017

    My husband has suffered from gout for 50 years (he’s 80). Just recently during this gout attack,’he used a heating pad on his big toe! He says it feels good and relieves some pain. Is this okay and are warm water soaks helpful and okay?

    • Spiro Koulouris

      Reply Reply February 20, 2017

      Yeah that is fine Sue, many gout sufferers use various types of compresses to relieve the inflammation.

  • Bruce Morgan

    Reply Reply January 8, 2017

    Hi Spiro,
    How soon can I start exercising after a gout attack? After starting the medicine my pain subsided a great deal and I regained most of my mobility in the joint. However it still seems slightly swollen and has a small amount of pain when I flex the joint but I’m walking fine and with very little pain. Can I start walking (not running) on a treadmill?
    Thanks,
    Bruce

    • Spiro Koulouris

      Reply Reply January 8, 2017

      Hi Bruce!

      No wait some more. If you start now you will inflame the joint even more and pain will last longer. Skip the treadmill cause that will put pressure on your feet and toes and do weightlifting for now. That doesn’t have an impact on your feet cause you are mostly standing straight and/or sitting on a bench.

  • Narendar

    Reply Reply November 12, 2016

    Hi Spiro!

    This is Naren I am suffering from gout for the last 2 months.
    While walking on my right foot I am feeling some pain. Do you have any suggestions to reduce the pain?
    Every time I got the pain, I used to take pain killers.

  • Danish Maqsood

    Reply Reply November 10, 2016

    I have pain in my ankle since 15 to 20 days after joining gym in my home also I started running from 3 days please advise me, is it uric acid or something else.

  • Simmi Paul

    Reply Reply October 17, 2016

    Speeedoooo!
    Hi I’ve found that working out during a gout attack has helped , am I crazy should I refrain until it goes away?

    • Spiro Koulouris

      Reply Reply October 18, 2016

      If your experiment works then keep at it. It could be true and it could be a coincidence, meaning something else may have helped your gout but you attribute it to exercise. But I know myself from past experience that the more I walk while on a gout attack, the better you feel much quicker.

  • David

    Reply Reply October 13, 2016

    I would like to ask whether a golf round will increase acid uric level and so the risk of gout attack.
    I enjoy reading your blog, and I hope to get your input on this matter. Thank you.

  • Travis

    Reply Reply October 8, 2016

    Hi I am Travis age 34..I am having gout high uric acid since 2 years.. Got severe shoulder joint pain..but no pain any where else. Also losing muscle and strength in my upper body. Kindly suggest.

    • Spiro Koulouris

      Reply Reply October 9, 2016

      Travis have you done anything to improve diet? Uric acid will cause gout and other related arthritic issues for you if you don’t manage it properly. Look at your diet and try and follow the steps outlined on my site and book.

  • Kazi Mahir

    Reply Reply August 27, 2016

    Hi,I’m just 19 and I’m suffering from gout.I like jogging and working out a lot. Is it okay if I continue with it?

    • Spiro Koulouris

      Reply Reply August 29, 2016

      HI Kazi!

      As long as it doesn’t bother you as in getting a sore foot then continue. If you notice you start getting sore too often, then lighten up on the load, jog but less. As for working out, I presume you mean weightlifting, yeah that is not an issue. Exercise helps with your overall health and at the end helps fight gout.

  • Kevin Donnelly

    Reply Reply August 8, 2016

    Hi! I have gout in my left foot. Is swimming a good thing to help with gout? I like to swim a lot and I just whanted to know if this would make it easier or if it would make it worse?

    • Spiro Koulouris

      Reply Reply August 8, 2016

      Hi Kevin!

      Swim all you want. It doesn’t apply any pressure on your joints, actually I should swim more now that you remind me.

  • Lonnie Ebneter

    Reply Reply July 15, 2016

    Is ok to box or do martial arts when you have gout? I am concerned of getting hit or hitting a heavy bag and the stress it will cause on my joints. Thank you!

    • Spiro Koulouris

      Reply Reply July 15, 2016

      Hi Lonnie!

      If you suffer from gout, best exercise is not to do anything strenuous like heavy lifting, usually it is advised to do light workouts but if you box and do martial arts and don’t feel any soreness from the joints, then continue and monitor your activity. If you feel pain and soreness then back off of a little and if you always seem sore, then you know you gotta change your workouts.

  • Mustafa

    Reply Reply June 6, 2016

    Dear,

    I am 41 and I recently had a pain in my left big toe. So I visited my doctor and he told me to undergo some test and then came to the conclusion I had gout. My question is that is it good for a gout patient to walk? Please clarify.

    • Hi Mustafa!

      If you are suffering from a gout attack and your big toe is hurting. Try not to walk that much. I understand you have no choice sometimes and you need to get around, to go to the bathroom or do some minor task around the house but it is best to limit the pressure you put on your toe and relax. This way it can heal faster.

  • Cameron

    Reply Reply May 20, 2016

    I’ve been on an elliptical and lifting weights regularly for several months now, and have made great progress in my physical fitness. I just went on a bike ride with my wife and a group of friends, and I had a need for speed, which I satisfied quite strenuously. While I enjoyed it, and my regular workouts enabled me to ride very fast for 3 or 4 kilometers, I am now suffering from an acute gout attack in both big toe joints. I didn’t know about strenuous exercise causing an attack because of dehydration. I think it is easy to get dehydrated without realizing it. When I’m on the elliptical my routine is more strenuous than this bike ride, but I always have a 500ml bottle of water on the machine, and I usually drink at least half of that and refill before starting, and I never get a gout attack from it. I didn’t drink as much while cycling. I’ve learned a lesson from this. I need to be more careful next time.

  • Andrew

    Reply Reply August 18, 2015

    I have been following your blog for about a year now, because I developed gout around age 35. I am now 41, and recently (about 6 months ago) started working out (lifting weights) at my local gym.

    For about one month now, I take a protein supplement to boost my protein intake for quicker recovery. I usually take one sixteen ounce serving on gym days only (M,W,F). One sixteen ounce serving is roughly equal to 60g of protein. Most fitness websites recommend approximately 1g protein/1kg body weight for mass gain, which is what I am trying to accomplish.

    My question is: Am I going to have another flare up because of the protein supplement I take? Or will the exercise help to keep the flare ups under control? My last flare up was in the middle of February. I usually can count on a flare up at least twice a year, if not more frequently, so as I calculate, I am overdue for another painful flare up.

    I enjoy reading your blog, and I hope to get your input on this matter. Thank you.

    • Spiro Koulouris

      Reply Reply August 18, 2015

      Thanks for the question Andrew!

      Yes protein is protein so it forces your orgrans to work more in order to break it down putting more stress on them already since we suffer from gout, our liver and/or kidneys don’t work at full capacity. So there is a chance of an increased risk of developing a flare here and there. Truth is even if you exercise you don’t need that much protein, it’s all a myth according to a popular study that gets quoted often on the net and was done with triathlon ahtletes. All you need is 4-6 ounces a day and it is more then enough to repair muscle.

      • Josh

        Reply Reply September 29, 2017

        Try out cayenne pepper as a pain reliever. I find it works really well. It’s subtle how to use it, though. I make a paste of it by adding apple cider vinegar and dried cayenne pepper and often add turmeric too. The consistency should be that it just flows.

        When the mixture is thoroughly mixed it should just be able to be poured. I then put it on the affected place and let it dry. Then you have to apply pressure onto the skin in the affected area and wait. Sometimes it doesn’t take exactly right. It requires blood flowing in the area so you want to massage the surrounding areas to get some blood flow.

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