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What Is The Best Exercise For Someone With Arthritis

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  • 05-12-2021
What Is The Best Exercise For Someone With Arthritis

What is the best exercise for someone with arthritis? This article looks at why exercise is important and exercises for helping with arthritis pain. 

Some articles online will tell you that people with arthritis cannot exercise, and those options are now shut off. We don't believe that, and there is evidence to prove that regular workouts can help alleviate joint pain, so keep reading if you're interested.

Why Exercise Is Important

When you have arthritis, you begin to lose the ability to complete the simplest tasks. This can be incredibly disheartening, as you feel as if your freedom has been taken away. 

There are still exercises and workouts you can do with arthritis, especially ones that won't hurt your joints and cause greater pain and stiffness. You will notice a significant improvement in your physical and mental health and a new sense of freedom. 

Of course, you shouldn't push yourself to what your younger standards were, and you should be completing what is doable and, more importantly, fun. 

Some of the worst arthritis symptoms come in the form of joint pain, stiffness and poor mental health. If you can combat those even slightly and improve your quality of life, that is an amazing thing. Here are the most important reasons why you should be maintaining a level of fitness:

Weight Loss

As you move less, you may notice an increase in weight. This isn't necessarily a problem, but putting on loads of weight can lead to cardiovascular issues and obesity. 

Controlling your weight with exercise can mean you feel healthier, more mobile and can lead to greater happiness in your daily life.

Better Sleep Cycles

There's a positive correlation between individuals who exercise regularly and their sleep quality. 

If you work out more often, you will sleep better, and for someone with arthritis, this can make all the difference. Instead of being up all night in pain, your body will feel more relaxed and can drift off more easily. 

Improved Mental Health

The main focus when exercising is, of course, your physical health and wellbeing. However, you can also notice an improvement in your mental clarity and health, meaning you will feel better throughout the day. 

If you are currently experiencing depression, anxiety or loneliness due to arthritis, exercising more often can help combat those. Exercise is not a cure for mental illness, and if your symptoms and mental state do worsen, you should contact a doctor or speak to a counsellor or therapist. 

Maintain Bone Strength

When you work out, your bones and joints will become stronger. Increased endurance is crucial for improving daily life, especially if you're experiencing pain in your legs, knees and feet. 

Exercising those areas of your body can have an impact on bone strength. When all of the workouts are done in alignment with one another, your muscles and surrounding tissue will become stronger, therefore supporting the bones.

Strengthen Muscles

As your joints and muscles get stiffer and more painful, you will naturally be moving around less. This means you're losing muscle mass around those joints, which can cause more pain and bodily harm. 

It would be best to focus your exercises on strengthening muscles around the particularly affected joints, not on the joints themselves. When you build muscle around the affected joints, you create more protection and less chance of more extensive risk. 

Arthritis Workouts

All of this isn't to say that you should dive into exercise without any advice because you could end up causing more damage to your joints. If you avoid exercise altogether, your body will become stiffer and more painful to move, so having some form of balance is ideal. There are many benefits to be gained from doing some form of exercise, and you can make it fit your schedule and lifestyle.

Talk to your doctor about what they would advise, and a workout plan can be created to suit your needs. 

Rheumatoid arthritis requires a specialised exercise routine with low impact aerobics and strength-based workouts. 

We'll break down some exercises for you, as you need to ensure that you're not causing unnecessary stress on the joints while exercising. 

However, don't let this list dishearten you if you cannot complete any of them because even the slightest form of physical activity is still good. 

Exercises for rheumatoid arthritis pain

As over 400,000 people in the UK are currently experiencing rheumatoid arthritic pain, you are definitely not alone. Specialised workout routines have been devised and tried by people experiencing the pain, and a positive increase can be experienced after exercising. 

Here is our list of physical activities for those with arthritic pain. As always, be sure to consult your doctor before beginning anything long-term.

01

Stretching

When you stretch, you can improve many of the symptoms you're experiencing. Flexibility, stiffness and general, everyday motion can all be enhanced by doing this. There's no one routine to follow, and it differs from individual. Some may be experiencing more pain in their lower limbs and muscles and therefore have to take more care stretching with their legs. 

You should always warm-up and start slow when stretching, as you don't want to tear any muscles or cause yourself greater strain. Warming up can consist of walking in place and slowly increasing your movement until you feel ready to stretch. Each stretch should be held for no longer than 30 seconds, allowing a reasonable amount of time for the muscles to experience the whole movement. This is then repeated two or three times, depending. 

02

Walking

Simple walking can be extremely good for the body and your mental health. This can be done in groups or with your family and friends and is a great excuse to get out of the house. As mentioned early, you are looking for low-impact exercises, and walking is exactly that. 

If you can, aim for dirt paths or woodland areas that are flat, as the ground will be softer and therefore less painful on your joints. Concrete and tarmac can be hard on your joints after a long period and cause more pain. Of course, wear proper shoes while doing so and don't push yourself beyond what you feel is capable.

03

Tai chi Yoga

Taking stretching a step further and implementing breathing techniques in the form of yoga is another widespread path to take when considering exercise. When focusing on your breathing and flowing movements, you begin to experience meditation, which can have fantastic effects on your mental health.

 Again, these sessions can be done in groups and can be a great way to meet people in a similar situation and get you moving outside of your home once a week.

04

Pilates

This can be more tiring and demanding for some people, but pilates is an excellent way to increase overall joint health and get moving. 

This exercise will improve your balance and core strength while remaining great for mental health. 

The rhythmic nature can enhance general movement and bring back confidence to anyone that has lost it.

05

Water exercises

When you ask a professional about exercises for arthritis, you will be recommended to join water exercises, as they are great for promoting healthy joint movements. 

When submerged in water, you weigh less and can move around more freely. Water exercises can come in the form of swimming, as your entire body is being used. In most stroke types, your legs are straight, meaning less pressure is placed on your knees.

You can also join water aerobics classes in groups, improving overall strength and endurance while giving you a new group of people and a fun experience to join in with. Aerobic exercise is fantastic for targetting the areas that need it the most, whether that's the shoulders, arms, wrists or legs.

06

Cycling

Cycling is another great option for removing arthritic pain, as you are focusing entirely on your lower body. When cycling, you promote great heart health and can be fantastic for getting joints moving. 

Be sure to station your seat at the right height, where your legs should be slightly bent when resting on the pedal. 

Of course, if you choose to cycle inside on an exercise bike, that is completely fine and will achieve the same results without moving anywhere. 

07

Strength Training

As we've stated, focusing on strength training is crucial when wanting to remove arthritis pain. 

This can be done in the form of stretching, but with a resistance band, for example. 

You shouldn't be trying to lift weights and move or carry more than you are capable of, and working alongside a trainer or physical therapist can get you to your goals safely. Good strengthening exercises are the ones that are repeatable and will not cause more pain while completing them.

08

Hand exercises

If you experience more pain and stiffness in your hands and wrists, you can also focus your exercises on them. As arthritis takes more control over your body, you will find it more challenging to hold and grasp items, perhaps dropping them more frequently. 

To combat this, some simple hand workouts can involve curling the fingers, spreading the fingers wide across a surface, and bending and rotating the wrists.

You will notice an increase in strength and flexibility in the hands and wrists if you continue to do this. Improved muscle strength in your hand is ideal for making the small things in the home more achievable.

09

Gardening

Finally, we have gardening, which can count as a form of exercise. This is great for people who want to be outside but close to their home. If you've never taken up gardening, then there is still time for you. 

As with all of these workouts, you should start slowly and work your way up, listening to your body as you progress. Gardening can involve a lot of bending, straining and rotating into strange positions, all of which can cause pain and joint stress over time. 

Be sure to warm up before commencing any gardening work, but this can also be great for your mental health and get you out of the house.

10

Do What You Can

This list isn't the end-all, and you should be focusing on staying active where you can. Everyone's situation is different, and you will know your body more than anyone else. However, you should still be pushing yourself to an extent.

Not exercising at all can lead to more problems, such as cardiovascular issues, obesity and osteoarthritis. Doing a gentle 10 minutes every day is better than nothing at all.

It's worth noting that these exercises should be done for a few minutes, to begin with, and built up over time. Depending on the person, you can reach more intensity with the workouts, but this isn't for everyone.

An increased range of motion, level of freedom and muscle strength will be achieved if you continue, alongside better mental health and attitude towards your current situation. Any form of pain relief that you can experience, no matter what exercise it's from, is ideal for you and your situation. 


If you have questions about how to live better with Arthritis, we hope this information has been useful to you.

We offer specialist home care services and live-in care for vulnerable adults throughout London. Get in contact today if you have a loved one that would benefit from professional arthritis care at home.