15 Exercises That Can Help Improve Your Arthritis

Exercise can improve your arthritisExercise can seem near impossible if you have arthritis pain. Arthritis is a condition that affects the joints, and there are over 100 different types of arthritis. No one is immune to developing arthritis; it affects an estimated 50 million American adults.

Arthritis can leave your joints feeling stiff, swollen, and sore, and it can even limit your range of motion. Arthritis is a joint disease, and exercise requires the use of your joints, so it may seem near impossible to partake in exercise; however, new research suggests it may be the best thing you can do.

Exercise improves arthritis


Norway researchers examined the effects of exercise on arthritis by asking 18 females to partake in a 30-minute high-intensity, interval spinning class twice a week for ten weeks. The women were to track their fitness along with inflammation markers and levels of pain.

The usual effects of exercise occurred in the women, including weight loss, improved stamina, and reduced fat. But regarding arthritis inflammation, markers also decreased, including stiffness, pain, and swelling.

Although the study was small, it was the first to reveal the benefits of exercise for those with arthritis and to show that vigorous exercise is safe for people with arthritis. Lead researcher, Anja Bye, said, “All of the women in the study were capable of participating in this type of high-intensity exercise program without any negative side effects.”

Not only did the women reduce inflammation markers, but there was no increase in biomarkers either – pain, inflammation, or joint damage. Exercise, even the vigorous variety, was deemed safe for all participants – even those in the older age range – which furthers the notion that no matter how old we are or what issues we have, we should try to exercise regularly.

Alternative benefits of exercise

Exercise isn’t only for those with arthritis; we should all be exercising as a good practice for overall health and well-being. Here is a list of other benefits we can obtain from regular exercise.

  • Helps you lose weight
  • Sheds body fat
  • Increases stamina and endurance
  • Improves cardiovascular health
  • Keeps lungs strong
  • Reduces stress
  • Maintains and improves muscle strength
  • Creates stronger bones
  • Improves mood
  • Improves digestion
  • Improves skin complexion – can help you look younger
  • Boosts immune system
  • Improves cognitive ability
  • How to start exercising

If you have been out of the game, so to speak, for a prolonged period of time, it may be daunting to try and embark on an exercise regimen. Don’t fret – exercise can be started at any time and at any level.

First and foremost: know your capabilities and work with them. Don’t try to over-exert yourself, as it will only result in injury. You may wish to start with range-of-motion exercises and stretches. This type of exercise entails moving the joint as far as it can go (without pain). Stretching will allow you to improve your range of motion, or you can try yoga and tai chi.

Once you’ve mastered range-of-motion, you can move up to endurance or conditioning exercises. These exercises may involve a brisk walk, swimming, aerobics, or even going up and down stairs.

Lastly, another type of essential exercise is strengthening exercise, which will maintain muscle strength. This is done through resistance training – or the use of weights. Don’t worry about starting with heavy weights; lifting water bottles at first can offer resistance until you build yourself up.

If you have clearance from your doctor to get moving, we highly recommend you get started. If you need help in the beginning, you may want to seek out a physical therapist for guidance.

15 Exercise Helps Ease Arthritis Pain and Stiffness

Water Walking

Water walking provides a highly effective and low-impact form of exercise. By immersing themselves in waist-deep water, individuals can reduce the amount of weight placed on their joints by 50%, allowing for improved mobility and reduced discomfort. Water walking not only helps to alleviate the physical symptoms associated with arthritis but can also provide a sense of relaxation and revitalization, making it a great addition to any exercise routine.


Swimming is one activity that can be a game-changer for those with arthritis. Not only does swimming provide an excellent cardiovascular workout, but it is also low-impact, which means less stress on joints. In fact, being in water can help reduce swelling and stiffness, making it easier to move your joints. Additionally, the resistance provided by the water can help build muscle strength, which can contribute to overall joint health.

Ankle Circles

Ankle circles are a simple yet effective exercise that can relieve those suffering from arthritis. Sitting upright in a chair, with feet stretched out in front, rotate your feet in a circular motion in one direction. As you repeat the exercise in the opposite direction, you’ll feel the small, repetitive movements beginning to loosen up the joints in your feet and ankles. If you struggle with arthritis, it can be difficult to find gentle exercises that still offer benefits. Ankle circles, however, are an excellent option that can be done from the comfort of your own home, making them an ideal addition to your daily routine.

Knee Raises

Knee raises are a fantastic exercise option for people who suffer from the discomfort of arthritis. Not only do they help to strengthen the muscles surrounding the knee, but they also improve flexibility and range of motion. To start this exercise, ensure you’re seated on the edge of a chair or stool with your back straight. Then, lift your knee as high as possible, being careful not to bend your back. Use your hands to assist you if necessary, and keep your abdominals tight as you slowly lower your leg back down to the starting position. With consistency and patience, knee raises can help alleviate some pain and stiffness associated with arthritis.

Leg Lift with Ankle Movements

When suffering from arthritis, it’s essential to incorporate low-impact exercises to help maintain joint flexibility and mobility, and leg lifts with ankle movements do precisely that. To begin, find a comfortable seat with back support, and take it slow as you straighten one knee at a time. With your knee slightly bent, flex and point your toes in various directions, allowing for a full range of motion. By performing this exercise, not only will you help reduce arthritis joint pain and stiffness, but you will also promote better overall joint health.

Shoulder Stretches

Shoulder stretches can be incredibly beneficial for those suffering from arthritis. Whether you’re sitting or standing, you can position your forearms together in front of your body to begin. Then, by bringing your elbows back to the “hands up” position, with your palms facing forward, you can activate your shoulders and prepare them for the stretch. Finally, with your elbows in line with your body, stretch your arms as far overhead as you can manage, taking care not to overexert yourself. These stretches can help reduce pain and increase shoulder mobility, making them an excellent addition to any arthritis management routine.

Hip And Calf Stretch

This stretch provides numerous benefits, such as reducing stiffness and inflammation, improving flexibility, and increasing blood flow to the lower body. Stand in front of a wall using arm support to perform the exercise. Position one foot forward and keep your feet apart at shoulder-width, ensuring they point forward. Ensure your shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle are in a straight line, and keep your shoulder and hips square while tightening the abdominal muscles. Gently move forward, keeping your weight on the heel of your back foot, and bend only at the ankles.

Finger Walk and Thumb Circles

If you have arthritis, you know it can be difficult to perform simple movements, such as gripping and releasing objects. Fortunately, some exercises can help alleviate some of the pain and stiffness associated with this condition. Finger Walk and Thumb Circles are one such exercise that is easy to perform and has great benefits for those with arthritis. Sit with your hands on the table and slide your thumbs towards each other. Next comes the “walk,” where you slide each finger one at a time toward your thumb. After the little finger has completed its journey, lift your hands and put them down straight. Then comes the thumb rotation. These exercises can help to increase flexibility and reduce inflammation in the hands and fingers, making daily tasks less painful and more manageable.


Stretching is a simple exercise that can benefit people with arthritis. The Arthritis Foundation recommends stretching as a way to improve mobility and reduce stiffness. By regularly stretching, arthritis sufferers can increase their range of motion, ultimately leading to greater independence and improved quality of life.

Not only can stretching help alleviate arthritis symptoms, but it can also be a relaxing and rejuvenating activity that can be done anywhere and at any time. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced athlete, incorporating stretching into your daily routine can help you feel better and stay active.

Flowing Movements, Such as Tai Chi and Yoga

If you’re looking for low-impact exercises that can still provide a great workout, Tai Chi and yoga are excellent options to consider. For individuals with arthritis or joint pain, these exercises can be especially beneficial, as they focus on gentle movements that can help improve flexibility and range of motion. Tai Chi, a form of martial arts, emphasizes slow, flowing movements that can help build strength and balance, while yoga incorporates poses and stretches to help improve flexibility and reduce stress. Both of these practices have been shown to be effective in reducing joint pain and stiffness, making them great exercise options for individuals with arthritis.


Walking is an excellent exercise for those who have arthritis. Not only is it low-impact, but it can also help to strengthen the muscles around the joints, which can reduce pain and inflammation. Additionally, walking is a great way to improve overall cardiovascular health, which can help to reduce the risk of other chronic diseases. So if you’re looking for a way to stay active and healthy despite your arthritis, consider walking today!


Pilates is an excellent exercise form that can help alleviate symptoms and improve overall mobility. Pilates is a low-impact exercise focusing on controlled movements and breathing techniques, making it an ideal choice for people with arthritis. Through regular practice, pilates can help to strengthen muscles, improve flexibility, and reduce pain and stiffness. So if you’re looking for a way to stay active and manage your arthritis, consider trying pilates.


Cycling has proven to be a beneficial exercise for people with arthritis. It is a low-impact activity that helps to improve joint mobility and reduce stiffness. With cycling, people can keep their joints flexible without putting too much strain on them, unlike other high-impact activities. Moreover, cycling can boost overall cardiovascular health and help to burn calories.

Strength Training

Strength training can provide significant benefits for people with arthritis. It may seem counterintuitive, but strengthening the muscles surrounding the affected joints can help improve joint function, reduce pain, and increase overall mobility.


Resistance training increases muscle mass and bone density, preventing further deterioration and providing a cushion for the joints. Additionally, engaging in strength training can boost metabolism, improve balance, and increase range of motion. With proper guidance from a physician or physical therapist, people with arthritis can engage in strength training exercises that are tailored to their specific needs and limitations.

By prioritizing strength training in their exercise routines, individuals with arthritis may find themselves feeling stronger and more resilient.

Hand Exercises

Hand exercises are a great way to help manage your symptoms and improve your mobility. Whether you’re using hand grips or simply practicing flexing and extending your fingers, incorporating these exercises into your daily routine can make a real difference.
Not only can hand exercises help reduce pain and stiffness, but they can also increase strength and range of motion, making it easier to perform daily tasks. So if you’re looking for a simple, effective way to take control of your arthritis, give hand exercises a try.



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