Should You Work Out When In The Midst Of A Gout Flare?

Gout is a type of arthritis that occurs when there is a buildup of uric acid crystals in the joints (via the Mayo Clinic). Uric acid is a waste product that is normally excreted from the body through urine. However, uric acid accumulates in the bloodstream in people with gout and can form sharp, needle-like crystals in the joints, leading to inflammation and pain.

Gout typically affects the big toe but can also occur in other joints, such as the ankle, knee, or wrist. The affected joint may become swollen, red, and tender to the touch. The pain associated with gout is often described as severe and sudden, with some people reporting that their joint is on fire. 

If you regularly exercise, you may wonder how safe it is to work out during a gout flare. 

Is it safe to work out with a gout flare?

If you have a gout flare, it's best not to work out, says Healthline. During a flare-up, your joint may feel extremely tender and painful, making moving difficult. Exercise or physical activity can exacerbate the inflammation and pain, worsening symptoms, says the source. Resting the affected joint and applying ice or a cold compress is best to help reduce inflammation and relieve pain.

However, it is important to maintain physical activity and exercise regularly to help manage gout and prevent future flares. According to a 2020 study published in the journal PLoS One, physical exercise produced an anti-inflammatory response in people with gout. That being said, it's always best to talk to your doctor before engaging in an activity. They can help develop an exercise plan for long-term gout management.

In addition to exercise, it is also important to manage gout with appropriate medications and lifestyle changes, such as maintaining a healthy weight, reducing alcohol intake, and avoiding foods high in purines, such as red meat and seafood, says the Mayo Clinic.

What are the best exercises for people with gout?

Although exercise is generally recommended for people who suffer from gout, it's important to keep your condition in mind and understand which workouts are the most suitable.

According to Healthline, cardio exercises are best for people with gout. According to the source, walking, for example, is a great low-impact exercise option for people with gout. It is a simple and effective way to improve cardiovascular health without putting undue stress on the joints, per Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Walking can also be done indoors or outdoors, making it a versatile exercise option.

Swimming is another non-weight-bearing exercise, says Healthline. Swimming can help improve muscle strength and cardiovascular health while also reducing pressure on the joints. 

As Healthline explains, yoga is also a gentle exercise that can help improve joint flexibility, balance, and strength. According to a 2022 study published in the journal RMD Open, yoga may help improve pain symptoms associated with gout. However, remember to only choose yoga poses and sequences that don't put pressure on the affected joints.