What exercise is best if I have arthritis?
It depends on what type of arthritis you have. Low-impact exercise is recommended for people with all types of arthritis. It’s often used by physiotherapists as a treatment to strengthen muscles around the joints as this helps to protect the joints themselves.
If you have inflammatory arthritis (such as rheumatoid arthritis) that is under control, recent research has shown that you can continue to strengthen your muscles and improve your aerobic fitness without damaging your joints or causing a flareup of symptoms.
If you have osteoarthritis low-impact exercise is suitable, but you might need to try different activities to find the one that suits you.
Whatever your condition, you should try to ‘listen’ to your body and take action if you experience an increase in joint pain, swelling or stiffness. You may wish to seek advice about specific programmes tailored to your needs, or you may be able to join a group or club and exercise with people with similar conditions or fitness levels.
Low-impact exercises such as swimming or cycling put less stress on your joints than high-impact activities like running.
Some sports may be suitable, depending on your arthritis. Good exercises if you have arthritis can include:
• water-based fitness classes or exercises
• working out on an exercise bike
• supervised resistance work in a gym
• tai chi
• body pump and body combat (a non-impact martial art)
• home-based exercises using DVDs or computer games.