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Exercise for people with arthritis

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If you think that “rest and rest” is the sole solution for one of the most common joint problems i.e. arthritis, then you are completely wrong. Excessive rest can further aggravate the stiffness in your joints which already is an outcome of arthritis.

Basically two categories of exercises are suggested to arthritis patients, viz. motion exercises and strengthening or endurance exercises. Such exercises increase mobility and flexibility of joints and keep the tissues and bones strong.

Range of Motion Exercises

This includes a wide range of stretching and flexibility exercises as mobility is the key to healing arthritis.

Aerobics: Any activity that entails moving your body parts along with breathing is beneficial for you. However, your doctor will let you know what suits you the best. You need a trainer for doing aerobics. Once you get a grip on aerobics, you will notice improvement in flexibility of your joints. It includes:

  • Dancing
  • Walking
  • Jogging
  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Tai Chi

Stretching: When you stretch your body, your muscles are flexed and your flexibility increases to a large extent. Stretching mainly focuses on your knees, feet, arms and back. The stiffness and pain in the joints also vanish. The exact posture and duration of the exercises will be taught by your trainer

  • Hamstring stretch
  • Quadriceps Stretch
  • Forward Bend
  • Hand press/ hand stretching
  • Fisting and curling fingers

Water Walking: Warm water is an excellent therapy for arthritis symptoms like swelling, tenderness and stiffness in joints. The best exercise is – water walking. Your stand in a pool of warm water with your legs immersed till your thighs. Now walk in the water for 10-15 minutes daily. You are sure to notice improvement in the condition of your joints.

Therapeutic Yoga: The ancient techniques of yoga are a brilliant way to combat arthritis. However, make sure you don’t try the therapeutic yoga postures merely by watching videos. For your knowledge we let you know the yoga poses useful for arthritis:

  • Sun salutation
  • Hero pose
  • Bridge Pose
  • Cat pose
  • Child pose
  • Warrior pose
  • Tree pose  

Strengthening and Endurance Exercises

This is the next stage of exercises directed to strengthening the muscles and bones. After your joints gain a certain degree of mobility, you can work on to making them strong. The endurance exercises improve cardiovascular health, boost your physical energy and keep you fit. Some examples are:

Exercise with equipments: Free weights like dumbbells and exercise bands are incorporated to make bones stronger. They could be:

Isometric Exercises: They are done in a static position, without moving the whole body to improve strength of that particular muscle and overall balance of the body. Some wonderful isometrics for arthritis patients are:

  • calf raises
  • static push ups
  • Wall sitting
  • Static knee curls
  • Static feet rotation

Isotonic Exercises: In this case, you move your body and your muscles in a range of motion to create resistance. The exercises increase stamina of your body.

  • Bicep curls
  • Free lunges
  • knee extensions
  • lying down leg curl
  • Chair squats


  • The exercises that you will be doing will be determined by your doctor or physiotherapist.
  • Take help from your trainer while exercising and do not try on your own in the beginning
  • Tell your doctor if you feel exhausted too soon or experience shortness in breath
  • Limit yourself to the time and repetitions as scheduled by your physiotherapist and not more than that.

We wish you quick recovery from arthritis!

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Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: January 12, 2015

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