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  • Low-Impact Exercise, Big Impact on Health
    High-impact exercises may have been fun earlier in life, but if done by those with arthritis, they can exacerbate joint problems. Instead, focus on these exercises for fitness and arthritis relief. Read >>
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Health and Fitness News

Low-Impact Exercise, Big Impact on Health

Don’t let arthritis stop you from exercising. The right workout can bring relief from this painful condition.

Anyone with arthritis knows what it’s like to live every day with painful joints. Your shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, and ankles are stiff, swollen, and painful. As a result, moving is often the last thing you feel like doing. But in reality, getting up and moving around is one of the best things you can do to help loosen stiffness, strengthen surrounding tissue, and relieve pain brought on by arthritis.

The key is to find a workout routine that you enjoy and that’s approved for your condition. Low-impact exercises are those that don’t require jumping, pounding your feet against hard surfaces, or jolting movements. Examples of exercises you want to avoid include basketball, running, and plyometrics. These high-impact exercises may have been fun earlier in life, but if done by those with arthritis, they can exacerbate joint problems. Instead, focus on these exercises for fitness and arthritis relief.

Strength Training

Movements that work against some sort of resistance are known as strength- or weight-training exercises. The resistance might be free weights, rubber bands, or your own bodyweight. As you work against a weight, your muscles grow and strengthen. Strong muscles help support weak, painful joints, which are a significant problem for those with arthritis.

Work with your trainer to develop a strength-training routine at the gym or at home. To avoid injury, use proper form when lifting weights. Compound exercises such as the bench press, squats, lunges, and deadlifts are most effective at working multiple muscle groups and burning calories.

Simple bodyweight exercises like push-ups, crunches, planks, burpees, tricep dips, and squats or exercises that incorporate a rubber band are easy to do at home or on the go.


Unless your doctor disagrees, it’s hard to go wrong with walking. No training, special equipment, or gym membership is required, and walking is a cardio exercise that’s very low on the impact scale. All you need is a supportive pair of shoes to walk around your neighborhood, on the treadmill, or while on your lunch break. Get more out of your walks by alternating between a brisk pace and a moderate pace or by including hills. Each time you walk, gradually increase your pace, distance, or time. It may not do away with your arthritis symptoms altogether, but a regular walk keeps arthritis from taking your mobility.


Another type of exercise that’s proven safe and effective for people with arthritis is swimming. As an added perk, you don’t even have to break a sweat! Swim laps or take a water aerobics class. Consisting of both cardio and strength-training at the same time, swimming gets your heart rate elevated, while forcing your body to move against the resistance of the water. Warm water can be especially soothing to painful joints.


Get out on the water or sit down at the rowing machine at the gym. Rowing is a no-impact, full-body exercise that gives your arms, legs, back, and core a real workout. Build muscle, strengthen your heart, burn serious calories, and improve endurance with rowing.

It’s simple to adjust the resistance on a rowing machine, making it a workout for beginners and trained athletes. Start out with low resistance and gradually increase resistance as you get in better shape. Do it the right way and you’ll keep arthritis symptoms at bay during and after your workout.

Looking for a workout similar to the treadmill that is easier on your joints? Then step on the elliptical machine. Compared to the treadmill, the elliptical gives you an upper- and lower-body workout. This means you can burn more calories in less time. Choose a workout program that fits your fitness goals and abilities and follow your trainer’s advice to make the most of your time on the elliptical.