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Exercise guidelines for specific conditions

You may find the following basic routine helpful if you have one of these specific conditions. Details of the exercises can be found on our Keep Moving poster (PDF, 2.82 MB).

Exercises for osteoarthritis

Knee osteoarthritis exercises:

  • Do your knee-strengthening exercises for the quadriceps muscles (at the front of the thigh).
  • Stand up from sitting on a chair, without using your arms.
  • Do step-ups onto the first step of the stairs.

Hip osteoarthritis exercises:

  • Lie on your side and raise the uppermost leg.
  • Lie on your stomach and raise your affected leg a short distance behind.

General exercise tips:

  • Go for a short walk to the park or the shops and gradually increase the distance.
  • Take frequent rests.
  • Swimming can help maintain strength and stamina without putting too much pressure on your joints.
  • Don’t be embarrassed about using a walking stick – it’ll take the pressure off aching joints.

Exercises for rheumatoid arthritis and juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA)

  • ‘Whole body’ exercises such as swimming can help multiple joints.
  • Low-impact exercises, such as walking, cycling and aquaerobics, can keep you fit without putting stress on joints.
  • Seeing a physiotherapist is important to get advice about how to exercise during times of acute flare-up. You may be able to exercise other parts of your body, even in a flare-up.

Exercises for ankylosing spondylitis

  • Seeing a physiotherapist is vital when you have ankylosing spondylitis as exercise plays a huge role in managing the condition. They can give appropriate stretches for the back, neck and any other joints commonly affected.
  • ‘Whole body’ exercise is usually encouraged, particularly those that keep the spinal column mobile and prevent stiffening. Swimming and activities that stretch and extend the back may be useful.

Seeing a physiotherapist is vital when you have ankylosing spondylitis as exercise plays a huge role in managing the condition. They can give appropriate stretches for the back, neck and any other joints commonly affected.

Read more about specific exercises for ankylosing spondylitis

Exercises for osteoporosis

  • High-impact exercises, such as skipping, aerobics, weight-training, running, jogging and tennis, are thought to be useful for the prevention of osteoporosis. People with osteoporosis must be careful of falling during exercise because of the risk of fracture. Always take advice from a healthcare practitioner first.
  • Don’t use the lift at work! Running up and down a flight of stairs is one of the best ways to strengthen bones.
  • Walking is a good exercise to maintain bone density if more high-impact activity isn’t possible.

Exercises for back pain

  • Remember to keep a good posture.
  • Lie on your back, and bend your knees up to your stomach as far as you can.
  • Lie on your front on the bed. Push up as far as you can on your hands, keeping your stomach in contact with the bed.
  • From a standing position, slide your left hand down the side of your left leg without bending forwards or backwards. Repeat on the right side.
  • If the pain goes into your buttocks or legs consult your physiotherapist or doctor prior to starting any exercise.
  • If your muscles feel tight, use a hot water bottle or wheat bag to relieve any aching or spasm. (Be careful not to use very hot water, to avoid burns or scalds.)

Read more about specific exercises for back pain.

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