Produced by Bupa's Health Information Team, January 2009.
This video is for adults with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. It is not for people who have had joint replacement surgery.
Lots of people think that if they have arthritis they shouldn't exercise. They believe that it'll harm them or make their condition worse. In fact, the opposite is true. Regular exercise is a great way of keeping your joints strong and mobile, and it'll also help you to manage any excess weight, which will further reduce the strain on your joints.
There are three main types of exercises which are useful if you have arthritis.
Range of movement exercises
Range of movement exercises help keep you flexible and they're important for strengthening your joints. These exercises involve putting your affected joint through its full range of movements.
Strengthening exercises help to strengthen the muscles which move, protecting and supporting your joints. This helps your body become more stable and makes certain tasks, like climbing the stairs, easier. Although you may not feel like it, it's important to keep active and to take regular aerobic exercise.
Aerobic exercise is when you do exercise that raises your heart rate - the kind that makes you slightly out of breath. This helps you to manage a healthy weight and keeps your muscles strong. The best forms of aerobic exercise for people with arthritis include walking, cycling, swimming.
To get the full benefit of aerobic exercise, you should exercise for 20 to 30 minutes, two to three times a week. This can be difficult to start with and you may want to build up to it gradually.
With some kinds of arthritis you can get flare ups where your symptoms suddenly get worse and your joints get more painful. It can be really difficult to keep up the more strenuous exercise during these flare ups, but it is important. If you can't manage all the exercise, just do the range of movement ones. And it is important to talk to your GP or your physiotherapist before you start a new form of exercise.
This video is intended for general information only it shows an example of one person's experience. Your circumstances may be different so not everything may apply to you. It does not replace the need for personal advice from a medical practitioner.
This information was published by Bupa's Health Information Team and is based on reputable sources of medical evidence. It has been reviewed by appropriate medical or clinical professionals. Photos are only for illustrative purposes and do not reflect every presentation of a condition. The content is intended only for general information and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional. For more details on how we produce our content and its sources, visit the About our Health Information page.
Publication date: January 2009