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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32 Comments

  • 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.

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