The importance of regular exercise for managing arthritis pain cannot be overstated. There is overwhelming evidence that exercise helps in recovery.

Do you think you can’t exercise enough to make a difference? Do you think that exercise or any movement will increase pain and not decrease pain? Think again…

Exercise is important for people with arthritis and for people who have had a joint replacement.


Keeping your weight down and your muscles strong can help to delay joint replacement and improve your surgical results from joint-replacement surgery. Learn different ways to exercise so that you are pain-free, despite your arthritis.

How exercise helps manage pain

Exercise strengthens the muscles that surround your joints. Exercise improves overall strength and boosts your energy level. It also helps you to sleep well, improves your mood and helps you manage your weight.

Whether directly or indirectly, exercise is beneficial and contributes to pain management.

There are different theories for explaining how pain is reduced when one exercises.

Individuals can adapt exercise routines so that it is appropriate for their level of physical ability. If one needs help determining what appropriate exercise is for them, consult with a physical therapist or a personal trainer who has experience advising people who live with chronic pain.

exercising with arthritis_2Balance rest and activity

Most of us live a fast-paced life. We have families and responsibilities that pull us in different directions. Remember Stretch Armstrong, a doll that was popular in the 1970s? It could be stretched from 15 inches to 4 or 5 feet.

Life feels that way sometimes, doesn’t it?

If we factor in what it feels like to live with chronic pain and inflammation, it can be overwhelming at times. It is important for you to pay attention to your body signals. When pain increases, that’s a sign your body needs a break.

Pace your activities

Be conscious of your limitations and try not to overdo. Be kind to yourself and know when it’s time to rest and relax.

Regular physical activity is important, but knowing how to balance rest and activity is equally important. Quite possibly, balance is the hardest thing to learn, yet it will help immensely with managing pain and other aspects of rheumatoid arthritis.

Weight machines

Training with weights can help strengthen muscles and is also an excellent way to stimulate bone health. Exercising with weights must be done safely, but with proper instruction, just about anyone can learn a few good strength-training exercises.

exercising with arthritis_5Even with a few dumbbells and some basic knowledge, a weight workout can be perfect for arthritis.


Walking is a favourite activity of many arthritis patients. While it is not the best workout for those with arthritis, walking for exercise is certainly better than no exercise at all. There are some ways to modify your walking for a better workout, including trying interval walks and incorporating your arms.


Cycling is one of my favourite recommendations, because not only is this a low-impact way to exercise, but the cyclic motion is stimulating for the cartilage within a joint.

It gives a good muscular and cardiovascular workout and loosens up stiff joints common in people with arthritis. Start off with stationary cycling, and move outdoors as you get stronger.


Pilates is a terrific way to strengthen the most important muscles in the body (the core) in a low-impact, safe manner. You may think Pilates cannot stimulate a sufficient workout, but professional athletes and athletic trainers would disagree.

exercising with arthritis_4Pilates has become a popular tool for injury treatment and prevention even with professional athletes.

Pilates is safe for the joints and can help improve body mechanics.

Water Aerobics

Working out in the water is a way to perform normal activities without the impact of working out on land.

Water workouts can involve aerobics, walking, jogging or just about anything else. And of course some sports can be played in the water – e.g. water polo, aqua basketball, etc, preventing joint pain.


With swimming, your joints are supported by the water, easing arthritis pain. For people with the most severe arthritis in their hip or knee, swimming can be done with a pull-buoy to give you a good cardiovascular workout without placing any burden on your hip or knees.

Get out and exercise

As you can see, there are many options for exercise, even for those with joint pain from arthritis. Exercise has been shown to be useful for patients with arthritis both before and after joint-replacement surgery.

So now you have no excuses … get out and exercise!

Connect with Expert Dr. Ketan Gandhi.

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