25 Feb 2024

The Many Benefits of Swimming for Gouty Arthritis Patients

One of the main advantages we love about swimming is that it can be performed throughout the year. Does it comes with benefits for gouty arthritis patients – certainly! The body coordination required for swimming can help increase the mobility and functioning of the joints, and aerobic exercise is excellent for overall health. There is a reason they call swimming the fountain of youth!

Let’s dive in:

  • Good for your joints: Swimming is a great form of exercise for people with gouty arthritis because it is a low-impact activity that places little strain on the joints. In fact, research has shown that swimming can help reduce pain and stiffness in people with gouty arthritis. By supporting the body weight to up to 90% through buoyancy, swimming is one of the best options for significantly obese people to still keep move and exercise.
  • Excellent aerobic exercise with health benefits: Talking about obesity, swimming is also an excellent form of aerobic exercise, which is important because obesity is a risk factor for developing gouty arthritis. A recent study found that people who swim regularly have a significantly lower body mass index (BMI) than those who don’t swim. Of course, swimming alone will not magically solve all your problems, but regular exercise, combined with a balanced diet and calorie reduction, can do this. In general, swimming comes with combined benefits like that it isn’t a full-body workout, it is suitable for all ages or abilities, contributes to a happier mind, regulates blood sugar, helps decrease the risk of heart disease and many others.
  • Coordination: While this is not an obvious benefit, it is actually an important one. Swimming can help improve coordination and flexibility, which are often impaired in people with gouty arthritis. And both coordination and flexibility give you a better chance to avoid unexpected sharp stress on the leg joints, which can trigger a gout flare.

One important thing to note – if you have gout flare, it is best to pause exercises until your condition normalizes. Even if swimming does not put significant stress on your joints, it is still recommended to relax and avoid any stress on the inflamed joints.

Another interesting research tackles cold water immersion for some time as a way to reduce pain and improve quality of life. We will look into more details in some next articles.

Proposed Weekly Swimming Routine for Gouty Arthritis Patients
Ok, you would say – “it is good to swim, but how long shall I swim?” This really depends on the condition in which you are right now, the frequency of the gouty flare attacks, your obesity level and so on. The best thing to do is always to consult with your doctor or with a physiotherapist so you can receive optimal and personally tailored guidance. In order to get a better understanding, we will provide below an example routine:

  • Monday and Thursday: 20 minutes of gentle swimming followed by 10 minutes of stretching
  • Tuesday and Friday: 20 minutes of moderate swimming followed by 10 minutes of stretching
  • Wednesday and Saturday: 20 minutes of vigorous swimming followed by 10 minutes of stretching

On days when you are not swimming, we recommend doing some light stretching or walking for 30 minutes. You can also update this routine to have 3 days in the week with 30 or two days with 45 min of swimming, depending on how comfortable you do feel swimming regularly.

For people who can’t swim or with limited joint movement, there is another option – to perform water walking and water cycling in the pool without swimming full length. This will also help your joints to move improve your mood, and help you exercise.

Swimming is a great way to increase mobility and reduce pain and stiffness in people with gouty arthritis. It is also an excellent form of aerobic exercise that can help reduce obesity—a risk factor for developing this condition. We hope this post has inspired you to give swimming a try! Remember to always check with your doctor before starting any new exercise routine. Happy swimming!

Related research articles:
1) Nonpharmacological Management of Gout and Hyperuricemia: Hints for Better Lifestyle: PMCID: PMC6125106
2) Improved Function and Reduced Pain after Swimming and Cycling Training in Patients with Osteoarthritis: DOI: 10.3899 article: jrheum.151110
3) Cold Water Immersion Directly and Mediated by Alleviated Pain to Promote Quality of Life in Indonesian with Gout Arthritis: A Community-based Randomized Controlled Trial: DOI: 10.1177 article: 10998004211063547

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