a group of senior men and women practicing t'ai chi

Exercise Is Good for Arthritis

The Taste for Life Staff
This content originally appeared on 

If you're dealing with the pain and stiffness of arthritis, trying to exercise may seem counterproductive. But gentle (and sometimes vigorous) exercise can bring relief.

Exercises for Joint Pain Relief

  • Stretching

    Range-of-motion exercises can reduce stiffness and keep your joints flexible. That will also reduce your pain.

    Here are three basic stretches. Hold each for 10 to 20 seconds and repeat a few times.

    1. Stand with one hand against a wall for support. With your other hand, reach behind and grab your ankle, gently pulling it toward your buttocks until you feel a stretch in the quadriceps muscle. Then do the other leg.
    2. Stand about two feet from a wall and place both hands on it, then lean forward to stretch your calves. Keep your back straight and your feet flat.
    3. To stretch your hamstring, lie flat on your back and bend your knee. Bring the thigh back and hug it to your chest. You can stretch at any time during the day. Several sessions will be more beneficial than one.
  • Aerobic Exercise

    Many types of aerobic exercise help people with arthritis. Exercising in water is good because the buoyancy reduces the load on the joints. Pool aerobics and swimming are great choices.

    Other options include:

    • hiking
    • t'ai chi
    • qi gong
    • walking
    • bicycling
    • dance
    • Pilates
    • golf
    • elliptical machine
  • Strength Training

    A review of studies showed that no bad effects came from people with rheumatoid arthritis combining aerobic activities (either on land or in water) with strength training.

    These types of exercise programs improved aerobic capacity and muscle strength.

  • Yoga

    Yoga is great for flexibility, but it also promotes strength, good posture, endurance, and balance--all of which are useful in dealing with arthritis. Yoga can also boost your energy level and reduce aches and pains.

    A beginning or gentle yoga class is a good place to start. Many health clubs, YMCAs, and community centers offer them.

Supplements for Joint Pain

In addition to exercise, there are many helpful herbs and supplements for joint pain. 


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