Jillian Michaels on Working Out With Osteoarthritis

The Biggest Loser trainer explains why half the battle of getting up and moving—even with joint pain—is getting in the right frame of mind.

Linda Childers
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  • Try bite-sized exercise. Can’t even find 30 minutes in your schedule? Break your workout into smaller parts. For example, if it’s a weight-lifting routine, divide it up by body part—say, your arms, legs, abs and back—and work one muscle group for 5 to 10 minutes a day (perhaps during TV commercials).

“I never see results when I exercise”
This often boils down to not using a tracking method. When researchers at Northwestern University used special devices to track the activity levels of more than 1,000 people with knee osteoarthritis, they discovered that only 13% of men and 8% of women met federal guidelines for weekly activity (at least 150 minutes, or about 20 minutes a day). Even more surprising: Many participants thought they had been doing vigorous activity!

Jillian’s fix:

  • Rely on pen and paper. Keeping a daily food and fitness diary is an easy way to track your progress and spot shortfalls. “If you’re not watching what you eat and portion sizes, all the exercise in the world won’t make a difference,” notes Jillian. So: “Write down what you’re eating and how you’re feeling both physically and emotionally,” she says. “This can help you work through issues like emotional eating.”
  • Let something else keep you honest! The cheapest gadget? A pedometer that measures how many daily steps you take (that’s what the Northwestern researchers used). If you can up the ante, Jillian suggests trying an electronic monitor that gauges physical activity and calories burned (she likes the BodyMedia FIT armband).


September 2012