Having an active lifestyle is the key to health. Doctors have found countless benefits from reduced risk of heart attack and stroke to better mental and emotional health. However, people suffering from chronic pain are often limited in what activities they can enjoy. Let’s look at 5 pain-friendly hobbies you can try at any age to get you more active and engaged. 

What is the right amount of activity?

Experts generally recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week. Being active is important. But, it’s essential for people to remember this activity does not need to be in continuous blocks of time.

Your recommended amount of exercise can be done a little each day. The key thing is discussing the right kinds of activity for you with your doctor or physical therapist. From here, you can find the right ways to build physical activity and other hobbies into your life.

Top 5 pain-friendly hobbies

Some of your favorite hobbies may no longer be possible due to conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or fibromyalgia. With you in mind, we’ve put together this list of pain-friendly hobbies that will help reduce pain, reduce stress and anxiety, and keep your mind sharp.

1) Knitting and crocheting

Knitting and crocheting is a perfect pain-friendly hobby. It’s the perfect balance of improving dexterity while helping to reduce stress and improve memory. Best of all, you get to create something for yourself or a loved one. 

Pain-Friendly Hobbies senior man knitting

To prevent painful flare-ups, you can:

  • take breaks as you create
  • stretch before you get started
  • use ergonomic hooks and needles approved by the Arthritis Foundation

It’s also a good idea to use a heating pad or soak your hands in warm water before you get started.

2) Swimming

Swimming can be an ideal exercise if you’re living with chronic illness. Researchers found swimming boosts lifespan and decreases the risk of heart attack and stroke by 41%. This is doubly true for people with rheumatoid arthritis and joint pain, as swimming is zero-impact on joints.

Since the water supports your weight, you can build muscle and increase flexibility. If you are looking for something more exciting than swimming laps, take a water aerobics class at your local gym. Seek the advice of an instructor to find your best strokes and ensure your comfort.

Pain-Friendly Hobbies man swimming laps

3) Creating art 

There are so many different ways you can create art. One of the simplest ways is with adult coloring books. Popular options include pages where you can color famous places like the Eiffel Tower, interesting geometric shapes and much more. Many of the books also include additional fun puzzles, crosswords and memory exercises.

Another great option is painting. Like with knitting and crocheting, painting can:

  • improve dexterity
  • reduce the perception of pain
  • reduce stress

Pain-Friendly Hobbies young woman painting

Once again, be sure to buy ergonomic equipment. This includes paint brushes and pens with grips and handles designed to better support your wrists and hands. Strive to stretch at least once an hour. 

4) Gardening

Gardening is another excellent pain-friendly hobby. It’s all about spending time blending creativity, light exercise and watching something come alive. Psychology Today found a wide array of benefits from reducing stress to increasing endorphins — the happy chemicals in our blood. 

Gardening gets you outdoors and provides you opportunities to get mobile. Here are some tips to help you enjoy it:

  • avoid heavy lifting
  • use a garden stool to give your knees and back a break
  • try lower maintenance plants like lavender, marigold and azaleas 

Pain-Friendly Hobbies woman smelling flower in her garden

5) Cooking

Cooking stimulates the mind. It challenges you to come up with recipes that are healthy, tasty and fit your budget. Not only that but you can also craft your own personalized anti-inflammatory diet to help reduce your pain.

As far as pain-free hobbies go, it gives you a little bit of everything by:

  • involving light movement
  • testing your senses
  • giving you a creative outlet and chance to experiment
  • providing you with a wide array of pain-friendly equipment designed to make cooking easier (e.g. lighter pots and pans and ergonomic utensils with long handles)

Avoid pressuring yourself to cook every day. Make enough so that you have some leftovers to eat when you need to rest.

Pain-Friendly Hobbies couple cooking in the kitchen together

Bonus: Yoga

Yoga is an excellent balance between hobby and exercise. Yoga is perfect to help people improve strength and flexibility while also decreasing stress.

You can work one-on-one with an instructor who can help you with targeted exercises to reduce pain. Or, you can enjoy the fun of a group class. 

Opportunities and mobility await

Chronic pain doesn’t mean you need to be confined to a chair all day. These activities are just a few of the incredible pain-friendly hobbies out there.

From increased dexterity and mobility to improved mood and mental health, you can find a hobby that suits your needs and reap the benefits. Talk to your health care team about which hobbies may be the most helpful for your pain level. 

Have a loved one with chronic pain looking for a new hobby? Share this: 

What’s your favorite pain-friendly hobby?

We want to hear about your experience in the comments!

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