The Best Exercises For Arthritis & How To Do Them Safely

Written by GHBY Team on Tue, 01 August 2023

Key Highlights

  • Exercise is one of the key treatments to reduce stiffness and pain associated with arthritis.
  • Low-impact aerobics, flexibility, balance, and muscle strengthening exercises are advisable for RA patients
  • Stretching, walking, hand exercise, swimming, and cycling are the best exercise to reduce pain
  • Do not overstress your muscles, modify your exercise according to the symptoms of RA

Exercise is one of the key treatments to reduce the stiffness and pain associated with arthritis.

Regular exercise for arthritis can help arthritis patients to boost strength, flexibility, joint mobility, and physical functioning. Arthritis also promotes the loss of muscles as people get older. Strong muscles give better support to joints.

Physical activities that are good for your joints are low-impact, which means they put less strain on your body and reduce your risk of injury. Walking, biking and swimming are examples of joint-friendly activities.

Physical activity can also help people with arthritis manage other chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity and delay the onset of arthritis-related disability. 

Exercises for arthritis

Importance of Exercise For Arthritis

1. Low-impact aerobic activities

People with arthritis should be careful about never putting stress on their joints. It is a good idea to engage in activities such as: brisk walking, cycling, swimming, water aerobics, light gardening, and dancing.

Do this for significant health benefits:

  • Each week, engage in 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as cycling at less than 10 miles per hour.
  • 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, such as cycling at 10 miles per hour or faster.
  • Another option is to combine the two. As a general rule, 1 minute of vigorous-intensity activity equals about 2 minutes of moderate-intensity activity.

2. Muscle-strengthening activities

In addition to aerobic exercise, you should engage in muscle-strengthening activities involving all major muscle groups two or more days per week.

  • Flexibility exercise

Daily flexibility exercises help you maintain your range of motion so you can continue doing things like housework, hobbies, and visiting friends and family.

  • Balance exercise

Walking backward, standing on one foot, and tai chi are all beneficial for those who are at risk of falling or have difficulty walking. If you are at risk of falling, do balance exercises three times per week.

  • Muscle-strengthening exercise

Include weight lifting, resistance band work, and yoga. These can be done at home, in a gym, or at a fitness Centre.

Best exercises for arthritis pain

Before starting any kind of exercise practice, its best to seek medical advice from a doctor to make an exercise plan.

Importance of Exercise For Arthritis

1. Stretching

The stretching routine can be different from person to person. It is depended on which joints are affected. Slowly and gently move joints of knees, hands and elbows.

Steps for effective stretching:

  • You can warmup by walking in place for 3-5 mins.
  • Hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds before releasing it.
  • Repeat each stretch 2-3 times using yoga strap or any other alternative.

2. Walking

Low-impact walking can help your heart, joints, and mood. It is essential to wear proper shoes and stay hydrated with increase the pace when possible.

Initially Try to walk on a flat surface then go uphill, downhill, or uneven surfaces.

3. Water exercise

Water always supports your body weight by minimizing gravity. That can reduce the heavily pressure on the joints.

Swimming and water aerobics can improve your flexibility, motion, strength and reduce joint stress and stiffness.

4. Cycling

Cycling improves cardiac functions. As RA patients have more risk of cardiovascular disease, it is important to keep your heart healthy as possible.

Riding a stationary bike can be a safe way to move your joints and boost cardiovascular health. If you are confident enough then you can also ride bike outdoor in nature with fresh air.

5. Hand exercise

Arthritis patient may lose their grip strength, sometimes limiting the use of their hands.

Bending the wrist up-down, rotating, slowly curling the fingers, spreading and stretching fingers wide, and squeezing stress ball can increase strength and flexibility in your hands.

6. Gardening

People with arthritis should be gentle with their bodies, work slowly, and avoid overstressing their muscles and joints. Gardening n help your hand and hip joints to be in motion, make sure to properly hinge at the hips.

Tips for exercising safely with arthritis

To improve the effect and safety when exercising with arthritis, follow these tips:

  • Choose proper shoes for the right protection and balance
  • Use a slip-free yoga mat
  • Wear comfortable clothes
  • Be consistent to achieve meaningful results
  • Do different exercises or mix up daily routines to avoid overworking on particular muscles or joints
  • Modify your exercise according to your RA symptoms
  • Choose the right pace and listen to your body. Get rest in between the exercise
  • Most exercise focus on large muscles so pays attention to small muscles like fingers, hands, toe, and feet
  • Exercising under someone's observation is a good for people with arthritis
  • Avoid exercises that may cause pain and put excessive strain on the joints


By now you know how exercise for arthritis is beneficial for those suffering from the condition.

It has a number of advantages, including the ability to relieve symptoms, improve joint function, build strength, increase flexibility, aid in daily functioning, improve aerobic fitness, and boost mood. It also has the potential to reduce RA flare-ups and make the symptoms of this condition easier to manage.

If possible, a person should collaborate with a doctor and a physical therapist to develop a personalized exercise program for arthritis management.



GHBY Team comprises content writers and content editors who specialise in health and lifestyle writing. Always on the lookout for new trends in the health and lifestyle space, Team GHBY follows an audience-first approach. This ensures they bring the latest in the health space to your fingertips, so you can stay ahead in your wellness game. 

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1. Physical activity for arthritis, Available at CDC

2. Plasqui G. The role of physical activity in rheumatoid arthritis. Physiology & behavior. 2008 May 23;94(2):270-5.

3. Cooney JK, Law RJ, Matschke V, Lemmey AB, Moore JP, Ahmad Y, Jones JG, Maddison P, Thom JM. Benefits of exercise in rheumatoid arthritis. Journal of aging research. 2011 Feb 13;2011.

4. Rheumatoid arthritis: is exercise important, Available at Mayo Clinic

Our team of experts frequently monitors developments in the health and wellness field, and we update our articles when new information becomes available.

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Aug, 01 2023

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