3 Types of Exercises to Fight Arthritis

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Take back your life from arthritis graphic

Exercise is crucial for everyone, especially those suffering from arthritis.

"Sometimes, my patients think that the only way to relieve pain is to stop all physical activity," said Craig Israelite, MD, orthopaedic surgeon and Co-director of the Knee Service at Penn Medicine. "Keeping active is actually very good for individuals suffering from joint pain or arthritis. Exercises that work the muscles and tendons provide stability and strength around the joint."

You don’t need to run a marathon or lift weights for hours to increase strength, improve flexibility and reduce joint pain. There are many non-weight-bearing activities you can do to keep in shape, including:

Range-of-Motion Exercises

These exercises (also known as stretching or flexibility exercises) help to relieve stiffness and increase joint mobility. The goal is to get your joints moving in their normal range of movement. Examples include raising your arms over your head or rolling your shoulders back and forth. It is recommended that these exercises be done daily or at least every other day.

  • Yoga 
  • Pilates
  • T'ai chi

Strengthening Exercises

Strong muscles help support and protect joints. A workout program that includes weight or resistance training can help to maintain current muscle strength or increase it. These type of exercises should be done every other day, but allow an extra day in between if joints become painful or swollen. Discontinue any exercise that continues to bring on discomfort.

  • Wrist curls
  • Overhead arm raises
  • Seated rows
  • Leg raises and dips

Aerobic or Endurance Exercises

These types of activities can improve your cardiovascular health, give you more energy and help to maintain or reduce weight. Having control of your weight reduces the pressure on affected joints. Try to include 20-30 minutes of aerobic exercise three times a week.

  • Walking
  • Bike-riding
  • Swimming

Have additional questions about how an exercise plan could help you fight arthritis? Or, are you interested in exploring other pain management options?

The Region’s First Musculoskeletal Center

The Penn Musculoskeletal Center is a team of doctors, nurses and physical therapists who take a whole-body approach to diagnosing and treating joint pain. These experts work together as a seamless unit to provide a wide range of treatments, not just surgery, and help you return to an active, pain-free lifestyle.

About this Blog

Keep up-to-date on the latest advancements in the musculoskeletal field, including bone, muscle and joint disease treatments, and other updates from experts at Penn Medicine. 

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