Walking can be an excellent exercise for those with arthritis if they observe some simple but essential safety precautions. The precautions will depend on which type of arthritis a person suffers from.

Osteoarthritis, or OA, is the result of normal wear and tear on the body that comes from aging and sometimes injury.

The main symptoms are joint pain, and sometimes popping and cracking, a condition known as crepitus, as the ligaments and tendons stretch.

Movement can be restricted due to stiffness and pain, but the truth is that joint health is a case of ” use it or lose it” with OA.

The more you sit still, the stiffer you will get. If you do try to exercise, you will experience pain, so you will sit still, get stiffer, and so on.

Walking can help keep you mobile, improve your range of motion, and reduce stiffness. It will also burn calories, which will help you to lose weight. Losing weigh will take the pressure off knees, hips and back.

Experts estimate that every 1 pound lost is the equivalent of 4 pounds of pressure off your knees when you step down.

Rheumatoid arthritis, or RA, is an autoimmune disorder in which the body starts to attack itself most specifically the feet, ankles, wrists and ankles. Exercise is a must if you have RA in order to try to prevent severe damage as the RA attacks the joints.

A good pair of walking shoes with proper support and cushioning can keep your workouts pain free. Try to walk on an even surface to reduce the risk of trips and falls. Vary your intensity by walking up and down stairs as you are able. In particular, be careful of walking downstairs, as this can put a lot of pressure on joints such as the knee if you have OA and are overweight.

Avoid carrying too much weight when you are walking, and be sure to stretch gently at the start and end of each walking session. Avoid rugged terrain that can cause you to twist your ankle or knee. Start gradually to avoid shin splints, microtears in the muscles at the front of your legs, which can make every step agony.

A walking program can help increase your flexibility, strength, and build bone and muscle to support healthier joints. So what are you waiting for? Lace up your walking shoes and walk your way to better joint health.