Living with arthritis can be very limiting.

However, staying active is crucial for managing symptoms and maintaining mobility. 

While exercise may seem daunting, there are plenty of exercise tips for arthritis that can make physical activity more accessible and enjoyable. 

In this blog post, we’ll be exploring some of the best exercise tips for arthritis, along with helpful resources and advice for getting started. 

Whether new to exercising or looking to switch up your routine, these tips will help you stay active and manage your arthritis more effectively.

Overview of Arthritis

Arthritis is an acute or chronic inflammation of one or more joints, accompanied by joint pain and stiffness; these symptoms worsen with age.

In the US, about 58.5 million people have been clinically diagnosed with arthritis, which occurs mainly in the female gender.

Although arthritis is a general term used for joint inflammation, one can break it down into various types with their causes and locations; the most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.


Osteoarthritis is the most familiar type of arthritis and occurs majorly in the hands, knees, and hips joints.

It is also known as “degenerative arthritis or wear and tear disease” because the cartilage that acts as a cushion at the end of the bones breaks down gradually, damages, and loses its function; on complete cartilage damage, the bones will rub on each other.

This type is often seen in older people.

Rheumatoid Arthritis 

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic autoimmune inflammatory disorder. It occurs when the body’s immune system sees itself as a threat.

Unlike osteoarthritis, which damages the bones’ cartilage, rheumatoid arthritis has many effects. It can cause damage to various organs such as the heart, lungs, liver, etc.

Because the body recognizes itself as a threat, it attacks its tissues and joint lining, making it swell and, if left untreated, leads to joint erosion and joint deformity over time.


  • A positive family history of arthritis 
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Viral infection 
  • Repeated stress on the joint 

Risk factors

  • Age: The risk for arthritis increases with age.
  • Gender: Arthritis is more commonly seen in women than men.
  • Lifestyle: Smoking and a sedentary lifestyle can increase the risk of arthritis.
  • Weight: In obesity, there is an increase in body weight, which puts pressure on the joints.

Symptoms are:

  • Redness of skin
  • Pains in the affected area
  • Joint stiffness 
  • Swelling and tenderness of the affected joint
  • Weakness


  • Joint deformity 
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Lung problems 
  • Osteoporosis
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome 
Man suffering from knee pain at home, closeup

Importance of exercises in the management of arthritis

Exercise poses many benefits not just to healthy individuals but to those with arthritis; it can be vital as it helps relieve symptoms, especially when it comes to pain and stiffness of the affected joint.

The benefits of exercises are numerous to mention, but for a patient with arthritis, exercise helps you to:

Maintain bone density

The human bone is a living tissue and therefore is prone to changes as we partake in various activities. Continuous exercise helps the bone adapt to these changes by increasing its density.

An increase in bone density reduces the chances of osteoporosis, which makes the human bone brittle and weak.

Strengthen muscles

Frequently exercising causes the muscles of the body to contract and relax. When you exercise, it causes small tears in your muscle fiber. When these tears are repaired, your muscles become stronger than they were. 

Reduce stiffness and pain

During exercise, the joints are active and engaged in various activities; as time passes, the bones’ affected area changes to adapt to the activities. Exercise is known to increase the production of synovial fluid that nourishes the cartilage and acts as a lubricant to reduce friction in the joint.

Increase joint flexibility

The strength of the joint tissue increases during exercise and enables the joint to attain a full normal range of motion while protecting it against tears and damage.

Improve general health

Exercise is known to strengthen the cardiac muscles, sequentially stimulating blood supply throughout the body.

An increase in cardiac blood supply increases the oxygen level in the blood. As blood flows through the arteries, vital nutrients the body needs are supplied to various organs. It also improves your brain health and helps in weight maintenance.


Types of exercises for people with arthritis

If you are battling arthritis, here are the types of exercises you should do:

Aerobic exercises

Exercise under this category is done to improve and maintain the health of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. 

It involves running, cycling, swimming, walking, rowing, and rope jumping. 

Strengthening exercises

These arthritis exercises upgrade muscle power, strength, and endurance. They include activities such as weight lifting, planks, and push-ups; they help increase muscle strength and reduce the risk of injury. 

Range of motion exercises

Due to inflammation and joint stiffness, people with arthritis find it difficult to achieve a normal range of motion; this exercise aims to move the joints as far as possible.

Range of motion exercises such as hip and knee flexing, toe curl, leg raise, hugs, and wrist curls help promote and maintain normal joint movement that significantly eases stiffness and pain. This type of exercise helps increase joint flexibility.

Exercise tips for arthritis

These are some of my best exercise tips for arthritis that’ll help you to exercise safely:

1. Consult your physician.

Before starting an exercise routine, you need to consult your doctor. The doctor has to review your medical condition and assess your body’s capacity to adapt to such exercises.

A doctor may present a different exercise routine to determine your medication and condition.

A significant reason to talk to your doctor is to reduce the risk of heart attack or cardiac complications for an immobile individual. 

It is best to discuss the type and intensity of exercise appropriate for your condition to prevent overworking the affected joint and muscles.

Determine whether you need any modifications or assistive devices to perform the suggested exercise. 

These devices help achieve the desired results when performing an exercise. 

2. Use protective wear.

Did you know performing an exercise without the appropriate protective wear increases your risk of injury?

Protective wears are helpful when performing arthritis exercises as they are made to prevent future sports activities. 

Remember to wear sporty clothes and use a knee, wrist, and elbow guard while performing strengthening exercises.

They help prevent arm and wrist fractures, while the knee guard protects your knee and gives support while carrying an exercise.

3. Start slow and progress.

When starting an exercise program, begin slowly and progress gradually. 

Engage in warm-ups and gradually introduce the main exercise. 

Start with less intensity and duration. As time passes, increase the exercise intensity and duration of your workout to improve joint adaptation.

4. Focus on low-impact exercises.

Low-impact exercises such as yoga, golfing, walking, cycling, and swimming are known to be gentle on joints and muscles.

They pose less threat to the joint and are the best form of exercise when recovering from injury.

Although low-impact exercise can slightly increase heart rate, it still helps to burn down calories and promote body balance and alignment, especially yoga.

5. Use heat and cold therapy appropriately.

Heat therapy before exercising affects the body positively by expanding the blood vessels, which significantly increases blood flow to vital areas and improves circulation. 

Additionally, it helps relieve muscle pain and stiffness and improves the range of motion.

Heat therapy is an effective way to warm up cold joints, tendons, and muscles before exercising.

Cold therapy can boost performance and relieve joint soreness and swelling after exercise. 

6. Make time for rest.

Rest can never be overemphasized; it’s a vital recovery factor. 

The body can adapt to strenuous activities by improving itself, and this phase is also achieved during rest.

Creating an accurate resting time in your workout schedule will enable you to achieve your desired goal faster, reducing the risk of exercise burnout and injuries.

7. Engage in stretching exercises.

Stretching exercise keeps the muscles and joints flexible, strong, and healthy.

With it, muscle shortening is prevented.

When muscles are stretched, they loosen up and become resistant to the exercise’s effect, which reduces the chance of sustaining an injury.

Apart from this, engaging in stretching exercises helps to:

  • Decrease the chance of back pain.
  • Prevent muscle soreness. 
  • Improve range of motion. 
  • Improve and stabilize body posture.
  • Prevent injuries.
  • Reduce body stress. 
  • Promote circulation.

8. Know your body signals.

Your body communicates to you through signals. You can easily detect these signals when you fully understand your body’s limits.

As an exercise beginner or pro, knowing your limits will help you adjust your exercise routine and prevent burnout.

Exercise such as running helps you test your aerobic limits, while weight lifting tests the endurance of your muscle.

9. Utilize strength training exercises.

Exercises in this category are familiar strengtheners known to improve body performance and quality of life by building muscles.

Importance of strength training exercises for arthritis

  • Improve joint stability

As the joint spends more time adjusting to various activities, they are flexible and stable, becoming easier to sort your actions.

  • Enhance muscle strength

When engaged, the muscles do more work than they usually do. They work harder against body resistance, increasing their strength, endurance, power, and size.

  • Reduce the risk of injuries and chronic disease

Strengthening exercises build muscles and joints and increase the density of bones, making it difficult to tear or break easily. These exercises also relieve symptoms of many chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, by assisting in removing sugar from the blood. 

  • Strength training exercises for arthritis

Although strength exercises are highly beneficial, not all exercises under this category should be performed by people with arthritis.

It is best to know what exercise you can perform to prevent complications related to exercise.

Examples of such exercises to be performed by people with arthritis are:

  • Planks
  • Push-ups against the wall
  • Squats
  • Dancing 
  • Kettlebell deadlift
  • Diagonal raise using dumbbells
  • Weighted step up
  • Chest press

How often should you exercise if you have arthritis?

You should do aerobic exercises for 150 minutes weekly, broken down into bits to fit the individual’s capacity. 

You can do this for 20 to 30 minutes three days a week to improve the heart’s health.

You should do strengthening exercises at least two days a week. While performing these exercises, you should involve all major muscles.

Range of motion exercises are less demanding and, therefore, can be done daily; you should do each exercise three to ten times. If the joint pain is severe, avoid this exercise for two days until the pain reduces.


Incorporating exercise into your daily routine can be a powerful way to manage arthritis symptoms and improve your overall health and well-being. 

By using these exercise tips for arthritis, you can make physical activity more accessible, enjoyable, and effective. 

Start slowly, listen to your body, and consult your doctor or physical therapist before beginning any new exercise regimen. 

With consistency and patience, you can stay active and continue to enjoy the activities you love, despite the challenges of arthritis.

What are the safety measures you put in place when exercising?


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