Exercise can help keep your joints and
muscles from getting stiff and weak. And it will help you feel
better and help you stay at a healthy weight.
Weak muscles and extra weight can put added stress on your joints
and can cause your
arthritis to get worse faster.
Exercising won't "wear out" a damaged joint. But if your joint is very loose or
doesn't line up the way it's supposed
to, some kinds of exercise may not work well or
may even make your arthritis worse. Your doctor or physical therapist can help you find an
exercise that is best for you.
Exercises that stretch the muscles can help prevent stiffness
and injury. Exercises that strengthen the
muscles and ligaments around a joint can help protect and
reduce stress on the joint. For example, stronger thigh muscles can
help reduce stress on the knees and
Several studies show that exercise can help
- Improve how well the hip
and knee joints work and move.
- Improve how well a person
with knee arthritis can move, and may
delay or prevent the need for surgery.
- Improve posture and balance in older adults with
arthritis, which may help prevent falls.
Motivation to exercise
Sometimes it's hard to get motivated
to exercise, even though we know how good it is for us to
do. Here are some ways to get started and stay
- Find a friend to exercise with you, or join
a support group. People are more likely to stay with their exercise program if
they exercise with a friend. And people with arthritis who
attend classes or support groups have less pain and
depression and have joints that work better than people
who don't join a class or support group.1
- Try a class at your local
health club or with your local arthritis chapter that is designed for people
with arthritis. People who take part in an exercise class
and who also exercise at home have less pain and feel
better. And they are more likely to keep doing their exercise even
after the class ends.2
- Record your efforts. Some people are motivated by seeing their
progress written down.
- Reward your efforts.
When you reach a step toward your goal, reward yourself by doing a special
activity or buying something.
You don't have to spend a lot of money
at a health club or on equipment to exercise. You can do
many exercises, such as walking, almost anywhere at no cost. At a local health
club such as the YMCA, you can enroll in a class (rather than pay for a
complete membership) that doesn't cost a
lot and is designed for people with arthritis.
Test Your Knowledge
If you have arthritis, exercising will further
damage your joints.
Continue to How to exercise if you have osteoarthritis
Return to Osteoarthritis: Exercising With Arthritis