Arthritis and Exercise: What To Do and What Not To Do

Sep 06, 2023
Arthritis and Exercise: What To Do and What Not To Do

If you’re exhausted, any physical activity may seem out of the question. Several forms of arthritis can cause extreme fatigue and joint pain, which may lead you to skip the exercise. 

The providers at Pain Consultants of Atlanta would like you to reconsider. We offer several treatments that can help ease the pain of arthritis, but we also encourage physical activity. Exercise is beneficial for most people who have arthritis, though there are a few things you should avoid. This post discusses some things you should and shouldn’t do when exercising with arthritis. 

One important cautionary note

You’re unique, and your health involves all kinds of individual factors. Your age, the type of arthritis you have, how damaged your joints are, and any other conditions are all considerations regarding what kind of exercise you should be doing and at what level of intensity. This post only contains general guidelines. 

Before beginning any new exercise program or routine, talk to your doctor to ensure it’s safe. 

What to do

Briefly, you should exercise regularly if you have arthritis. Physical movement is beneficial for your joints because it helps them keep moving. 

Exercise can build the strength of all the structures that support your joints, increase your range of motion, and improve your mobility. Along with all those physical benefits, it can also help improve your mood, help you sleep, and give you more energy. 

In the beginning

Whether you’re new to exercise or new to exercise with arthritis, you want to begin slowly. Choose low-impact activities and modify them as needed. In other words, don’t sign up for a 100-mile bike ride or a marathon as a way to motivate yourself. 

Some types of arthritis, like rheumatoid arthritis, involve periods of disease activity called flares and periods of remission. Intense exercise is a trigger for some people, which is another reason to begin slowly and ramp up. 

Consider activities such as water aerobics or swimming, bike riding, walking, or other low-impact movements, especially initially. Adding in strength training can be very beneficial as well. 

Warm up, cool down, and stretch

When you have arthritis, the warm-up and cool-down are even more critical than it is usually. Warming up helps increase blood flow to your muscles, which can help you avoid strains. Try using heat with warm towels, a hot pack, or a shower before you exercise. 

Stretching helps you move through your full range of motion and loosens tight muscles, which can pull your bones out of proper alignment. Cooling down helps improve your flexibility and brings your heart and breathing rates to normal.What to avoid

The most important thing to avoid is not paying attention to how you feel during and after exercise. You may experience some pain after exercise but dial it back if it doesn’t resolve with ice and rest. Many people make the mistake of doing too much too soon when they begin a new exercise program. 

Another mistake to avoid is stopping when your symptoms get worse. It’s tempting, especially in cases where fatigue is a problem, but moving around helps, even if it’s a little less than you usually do. 


We know it can be hard to believe, but exercise can help improve arthritis symptoms. If you’d like advice tailored to your situation, schedule an appointment at any of the convenient locations of Pain Consultants of Atlanta today.