Best Forms of Exercise for Arthritis Sufferers

What do I know about arthritis? I am 35 with Rheumatoid Arthritis and I have found the single most helpful pain reliever is exercise. Having active arthritis symptoms, like pain and swelling, I have to be extremely careful. Whether you have osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid arthritis or the many forms in between, here is a comprehensive list of exercises that will enable you to keep moving, keep healthy, and even relieve symptoms.


Strengthen Your Core: Pilates

"Your back is your lifeline". I was a product of the 80's and 90's exercise video craze and that quote was something ingrained in me by Denise Austin. I still have a lot of respect for that woman who made fitness, health, and helping others her life. Now that I have arthritis, I suddenly remembered that quote again. If my back isn't healthy, then my body isn't. In addition to this, our back is only as strong as our abdominal muscles.

Pilates is a wonderful form of exercise for arthritis sufferers. Many of us have intense pain in our knees, hands, feet, wrists and other small joints so concentrating on the back and abdominal muscles is key. Pilates focuses on your "core", which is the muscles I just mentioned. In fact, Jospeh Pilates who invented Pilates, suffered from asthma so he began his journey with limitations just as we have with arthritis. This was invented to be a user-friendly exercise with many benefits:

  • improved breathing
  • better posture
  • strengthen muscles
  • stretch muscles
  • fight fatigue
  • improve flexibility

Yoga or Pilates? Yoga tends to be more uncomfortable because it focuses on holoding a pose, but Pilates flows in movement from exercise to exercise. The best form of Pilates is matwork exercises and many dvd's can be found to suit every level o fitness. My personal favorites I use are listed below.

Rebounder/ Trampoline

The rebounder or mini trampoline is the best way, by far, to increase endorphins, work a little sweat, and maintain or increase cardiovascular endurance for people with arthritis. Walking doesn't always have an easy effect on arthritic joints, yes it's low impact, but if I walk long enough to work up a sweat, my feet are usually sore afterwards. That's why I recommend the rebounder and believe it is superior to walking.

The great thing about rebounders is there are many that will do the job, even in the $30 range or you can spend $200 on one with a stability bar available too. Whatever you choose, the health benefits are numerous. The most prominent one being increased lymphatic flow and circulation. For me, my morning joint stiffness is always lessened if I used my mini-trampoline the day before. The best way is to do a few minutes, rest, then do a few more- throughout the day for even better relief of arthritis symptoms.

Tai Chi

I used to go to the gym and chuckle as I passed by the Tai Chi Class every Saturday- I peeked in and thought to myself "What a joke". That was before I had arthritis and now I know that maintaining balance, both physically and mentally, is crucial. Balance is important so we can avoid falls and injuries. Meditative breath in combination with the flow of body movements is calming and energizing simultaneously.

When arthritis takes over our body, we feel helpless, but Tai Chi showed me power using breath and flow of body movements and energy. When we think of boxing and Martial Arts, we think power and many practice Tai Chi for training. Tai Chi offers numerous benefits and, if you can, attending a class at least once is helpful. I had one one-on-one session with a personal trainer who specialized in Tai Chi and Qigong, and it was amazing.

Therapy, Medicine, and Fitness Balls

Many of these balls are in 9" size, capable of working themselves comfortably in joints. The other aspect especially for comfort is the ball is made of PVC plastic which is very durable and soft.

I would recommend a therapy ball that comes with a video and these balls can accompany your pilates routine as well. They are useful for stretching and warming up the joints, even in the morning. It's part massage, part stretching, and part fitness.

If You Can Walk, You Can Dance

Dancing is for everyone. I've seen 90 year olds dance- it may not be break-dancing or competitive ballroom dancing, but everyone can modify their style to their physical limitations. I've loved the art of dancing since I was a kid and when I got arthritis I thought I'd have to give it up because I wasn't capable of dancing the way I used to. I then watched a segment on a popular dance show that changed my mind about giving up on dancing. I included that video below; check it out and be prepared to get inspired to dance.

I've since modified my favorite forms of dance, like Ballet, Contemporary, and Belly Dancing and continue to shake my booty. No excuses and best of all dancing makes everyone feel young, happy, and unique- surely you have a wonderful unique style that you can try out in the privacy of your living room.

Brian Gaynor- disabled and dancing

More by this Author

Comments 12 comments

boyjyoti profile image

boyjyoti 6 years ago

So lets have a ball tonight.

Rest I will write when I'm free but all i have to say is its mean to use such a picture of dogie with stick to represent such a sweet girl like Izzetl

Would you like to dance with me.

katiem2 profile image

katiem2 6 years ago from I'm outta here

Thanks for the great advice on the best exercise for Arthritis Sufferers.

izettl profile image

izettl 6 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

boyjyoti~ I'm laughing, but sometimes I feel like the old dog with a cane. Dancing always makes me feel better. I never turn down a dance invitation.

katiem2~ thanks for stopping by. I really enjoy your hubs too.

TheManWithNoPants profile image

TheManWithNoPants 6 years ago from Tucson, Az.

I'm happy you're fighting back This Hub was informative and well laid out.

And the judges give her aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa ... 10 !!!


Lita C. Malicdem profile image

Lita C. Malicdem 6 years ago from Philippines

I love this, "Your back is your lifeline", "If your back isn't healthy, your body isn't".

One year ago, my lumbosacral spine x-ray result was suggestive of degenerative osteoarthritis, courtesy of my ageing process. Even if I followed what my doctor told me, the pain in my back has come. I wish I knew how to give my back exercise more than being careful not to aggravate the pain. Thank you for the reminders I quoted from you.

izettl profile image

izettl 6 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

Lita C.~ Thanks for commenting.To strengthen your abdominal muscles, it strenghthens your back and one easy way to do that is keeping good posutre. Good posture keeps those ab muscles working. I used to strength train and to strngthen your weakest spot or muscle groups, you should work the oppising muscles. So for your back, that would be your abs. Just and Idea. I will hop over and read some of your hubs too- thanks for being a fan.

Hmrjmr1 profile image

Hmrjmr1 5 years ago from Georgia, USA

izetti - glad I found you here, I would like to tell you first that I have been dealing with degenerative arthritis now for over 22 years, I was about your age when I started feeling it and held out a long time before I went to the Army Docs and got diagnosed with it. There is plenty of good life with it and you are on the right track. Keep your Chin Up and shoulders back and March on lass!

izettl profile image

izettl 5 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

Hmrjmr1~ Nice to meet you. I never realized how painful arthritis can be and so many suffer from it. Mostly I'm trying things through trial and error. Didn't think I'd be in this position so young, but I'm sure you put up with a lot of adjusting your life and pain the past 22+ years of your arthritis. I've always loved a good challenge so here we go!!Thanks so much for stopping by.

Larry Fields profile image

Larry Fields 5 years ago from Northern California

Hi izettle,

Having had RA in my hip for the last 4 years, I think that you're spot-on about exercise and arthritis. Thanks for the validation.

izettl profile image

izettl 5 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

THanks for your support Larry!

Huntgoddess profile image

Huntgoddess 2 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

I'm always looking for information about dealing with arthritis.

Thanks. Up, useful, interesting.

Victoria 2 years ago

Thank you. That info is so helpful. I've just been told my X-ray results show mild degeneration in my hip :( I've been told swimming is good so did that today but I also have a trampoline for my children which I'm definitely going to use now. I'm only 32 and am in shock that my hip is already degenerating! I think exercise will help for sure plus being referred to Physio so that will be good too.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    Click to Rate This Article