Arthritis Home > Healthy Exercises for People With Arthritis

Types of Exercise With Arthritis

There are three types of exercise that are best for people with arthritis. These types of exercise are as follows:
  • Range-of-motion exercises
  • Strengthening exercises
  • Aerobic or endurance exercises.
Range-of-Motion Exercises
Range-of-motion exercises help maintain normal joint movement and relieve stiffness. This type of exercise helps maintain or increase flexibility. Some examples of range-of-motion exercises include:
  • Head turns
  • Knee lifts
  • Forward arm reach.
Some people with arthritis also find yoga to be helpful. Yoga not only helps with range of motion; it also improves flexibility.
People with certain types of arthritis (such as rheumatoid arthritis) may find that doing range-of-motion exercises at night is especially helpful with morning stiffness.
Strengthening Exercises
Strengthening exercises (for example, weight training) help keep or increase muscle strength. Strong muscles help support and protect joints affected by arthritis.
The arthritis exercises for strengthening vary depending on personal preference, the type of arthritis involved, and how active the inflammation is. Strength training can be done with small free weights, exercise machines, isometrics, elastic bands, and resistive water exercises. Correct positioning is critical, because if done incorrectly, strengthening exercises can cause muscle tears, more pain, and more joint swelling.
Aerobic Exercises
Aerobic or endurance exercises improve cardiovascular fitness, help control weight, and improve overall function. Weight control can be important to people who have arthritis, because extra weight puts extra pressure on many joints. Some studies show that aerobic exercise can reduce inflammation in some joints.
Some safe forms of aerobic exercise to consider include:
  • Walking
  • Aquatic exercise (such as water aerobics)
  • Swimming
  • Bicycling
  • Using stationary equipment, such as an exercise bike, treadmill or rowing machine.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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