Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

Training can be important for your physical activity.

Training can be important for your physical activity.
beginning of content

Arthritis and exercise

3-minute read

If you have arthritis, keeping active through regular exercise can help manage your condition. However, it is important you find the right type and level of exercise.

Exercise can also help limit pain, keep you mobile, boost your energy and keep your muscles strong to support your joints.

Exercise program

There are three types of exercise that combine to make up a good fitness program. They are:

  • range of movement – this helps improve strength and flexibility and promotes good posture; try swimming, tai chi and golf
  • strengthening – this will help build the muscles, which in turn provide better support for your joints; try weight training
  • aerobic – this raises your heartbeat, which helps to improve your level of fitness by strengthening your heart; some of the best forms of aerobic exercise are brisk walking, cycling and tennis.

Remaining physically active gives you the best possible chance of managing the symptoms of arthritis effectively. It is also essential for minimising your risk of developing a number of other health problems.

Finding the right level

Finding the right level of physical activity is very important if you are to feel the health benefits of exercise. Try to be realistic about the amount of exercise you are able to do and choose an activity you enjoy.

You may experience some pain when you first start a new exercise program. This is often due to new muscles being used. However, if you feel pain for longer than two hours after exercising, or you have any pain in the joints, consult your doctor or physiotherapist before doing the exercise again.

Exercising with osteoarthritis

Listed below are some tips for exercising with osteoarthritis:

  • Regular exercise can be the best way to help reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis. By keeping active you will strengthen the muscles surrounding your joints which will reduce further joint deterioration.
  • Exercise will help you maintain a healthy weight which means you will put less strain on your joints.
  • A moderate exercise program is far more beneficial than a strenuous program. Too much exercise can cause further pain and joint degeneration.
  • Try to do small exercises every day to improve your range of movement. 
  • Never force a painful joint.

Exercising with rheumatoid arthritis

Listed below are some tips for exercising with rheumatoid arthritis:

  • It is very important for people with rheumatoid arthritis to get the right balance between rest and activity.
  • You can still exercise during a flare-up, but you should reduce the intensity of your workout.
  • Exercise when you are least tired.
  • Try to do small exercises every day in every joint that improve your range of movement.
  • Exercising in the morning can help to reduce morning stiffness.
  • Exercising in the evening can help to prevent it.
  • Exercises that build and strengthen muscles can help protect and support your joints.
  • Swimming and cycling are low impact exercises and particularly good for people with rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Concentrate on maintaining good posture at all times.

Last reviewed: July 2016

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Found 461 results

Exercise | MOVE

Exercise can help reduce the symptoms of arthritis. Exercise programs should be planned in consultation with your doctor and physiotherapist, exercise physiologist or fitness professional

Read more on MOVE muscle, bone & joint health website

Arthritis and exercise - Better Health Channel

Exercise can reduce some of the symptoms of arthritis, and improve joint mobility and strength.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Water exercise | Arthritis Australia

What is water exercise? Water exercise involves exercising in a pool, usually a heated, warm water pool, and may also be called 'hydrotherapy'. It is one of the most comfortable and effective ways that a person with arthritis can exercise because the joints and muscles can be exercised while supported in the water.

Read more on Arthritis Australia website

Exercise and RA | Arthritis Australia

Many people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are anxious about exercising. This may be due to fear of causing damage to the joints or the presence of pain. However, research shows that exercise is an important part of managing symptoms, and people with RA can participate in regular, appropriate exercise without causing

Read more on Arthritis Australia website

Physical activity and exercise | Arthritis Australia

Physical activity and exercise is extremely important for managing an arthritis condition. It can improve mobility and flexibility of joints, muscle strength posture, and balance. It can also decrease pain, fatigue (tiredness), muscle tension and stress. Is physical activity good for arthritis? Research has found that

Read more on Arthritis Australia website

Arthritis and physical exercise information | myVMC

Exericse is good for people with arthritis. It increases bone and muscle strength, stimulates weight loss and reduces arthritic joint pain.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Fatigue and arthritis | Arthritis Australia

What is fatigue? Fatigue is a feeling of both physical and mental tiredness. It is often described as exhaustion or a lack of energy, and can make everyday tasks seem impossible. Many people with arthritis experience fatigue, no matter what they have been doing or how much sleep they get. There are many possible causes

Read more on Arthritis Australia website

Young adults with arthritis | Arthritis Australia

Finding out you have arthritis when you are young can be confusing and frightening. You may have thought that only older people were affected by arthritis. Possibly, the only people you have known with arthritis are your grandparents and their friends, but there are different types of arthritis some of which can affect

Read more on Arthritis Australia website

Tai chi | Arthritis Australia

What is tai chi? Tai chi is an ancient, Chinese martial art form that is practised around the world as a type of gentle exercise. It involves smooth, flowing movements to help improve the flow of life energy, or Qi (pronounced 'chee'), through your body. This is said to help create a sense of relaxation and improve or

Read more on Arthritis Australia website

10 steps for living well with arthritis | Arthritis Australia

By taking an active role in understanding and treating your conditions, you will experience less pain and stay more active than those who feel there is nothing they can do. Here is our 10 steps checklist to help you live with arthritis. 1. Take control by knowing your disease Spend the time to understand what type of

Read more on Arthritis Australia website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice and information you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo
Feedback