Ask a Fitness Expert: Arthritis and Exercise - What Kind of Exercises Are the Best to Do?

by Alice26. March 2013 07:47

We all have physical limitations to deal with, but no matter if your limitation is - in the joints or a body system - exercise can be of benefit. And exercising with arthritis is no exception.

 There are two types of arthritis which can alter a workout approach accordingly; osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). With either arthritis, check with your physician before you begin a new exercise program. RA can flare up, making it very difficult and painful, at times, to be active. Limit your activities during flare-ups to feel-good fitness, such as water aerobics (in a warmer pool, if possible), gentle stretching and yoga (you may want to do it after a hot shower), and riding a recumbent bike (to limit joint impact). This low-impact, gentle type of exercise will increase blood flow to your muscles and joints, and afterwards help your joints stay mobile and loose.

OA usually affects single particular joints, not all joints in the body. Exercise has been proven to help those with OA by, again, increasing joint mobility, and adding muscle strength to support joints. Strength training and cardiovascular training are recommended, but with mindful awareness around the limited joints. It depends on the location of your OA as to what cardiovascular activities work best for you.

If you're just beginning an exercise routine try different types of exercise cautiously and conservatively.  Give your joints time to adjust and adapt, and be mindful of the difference between pain and discomfort; do not exercise if there is pain, but mild discomfort is a sign that you are accomplishing work that can benefit muscles and joints. You are ultimately most knowledgeable about your body, however, so use your best judgment.

An ideal exercise routine for maximum benefit includes 5-7 days of cardiovascular exercise, and 3 days of strength training.  If the thought of strength training intimidates you, or you don't have access to a gym, we suggest you try using exercise bands. We have a Fitness Bands Kit that has everything (light, medium, heavy bands, a band video and reference book, a door attachment and a Soapstone Fitness Gilligan bag to keep it all in) you need to begin a strength training program in your own home. We would even be happy to talk with you personally about a routine that might work best for you. (We do this for any of our customers - that's what makes Soapstone Fitness unique!)

If you're still unsure about what exercises to do, find a qualified personal trainer in your area to visit with - they'll be a great resource for you - even if you only meet with them once to get started.  We offer online personal training as well, just email me at and I'd be glad to give you the scoop.

Don't let physical limitations get in your way - there's always something you can do to feel better and take control! 



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Alice Burron MS