Diet and Arthritis   |  About arthritis    | References (arthritis)

exercises for arthritisExercises for arthritis

Starting to exercises for arthritis will initially cause pain before the benefits are seen. Because of this, some people feel could harm your joints but research shows it reaps major benefits in reducing pain, inflammation, stiffness and reduces the risk of disease progression.  In fact, exercise is considered the most effective non-drug treatment for reducing pain and improving movement in patients with osteoarthritis.

What exercises are ideal for osteoarthritis?

Specific exercises for different parts of the body are highlighted in the videos below but the following types of general exercises play a role in maintaining and improving the overall ability to move and function:

Range of motion or flexibility exercises. Range of motion refers to the ability to move your joints through the full motion they were designed to achieve. These exercises include gentle stretching and movements that take joints through their full span. Doing these exercises regularly can help maintain and improve the flexibility in the joints. Yoga and Pilates are good examples of these.

Aerobic/endurance exercise. These exercises strengthen the heart and make the lungs more efficient. This conditioning also reduces fatigue and builds stamina. Aerobic exercise also helps control weight by increasing the amount of calories the body uses. Aerobic exercises include walking, jogging, bicycling, swimming or cross trainer.

Strengthening exercises. These exercises help maintain and improve muscle strength. Strong muscles can support and protect joints that are affected by arthritis.

Aquatic (water) exercises. These are particularly helpful for people just beginning to exercise as well as those who are overweight.  The water helps relieve the pressure of your body’s weight on the affected joints (hips and knees in particular), while providing resistance for your muscles to get stronger. Regular aquatic exercise can particularly help relieve pain and improve daily function in people with hip and knee OA – classes are available in many local sports centres.

How much exercise is good for osteoarthritis?

In general, and if possible, range-of-motion exercises should be done every day. The weekly recommendation for aerobic exercise is 150 minutes of moderate-intensity OR 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity or an equivalent combination. This translates into taking a 30-minute swift walk or bike ride five times per week or jogging, swimming, or biking that gets your heart pumping for 25 minutes three times per week or any combination of these based on your ability and preference.

Head & Neck


Arms and Elbows 


Hips, knees, legs 

Hamstrings and thighs 

Toes and ankles  

Lower back