We know arthritis causes severe pain and reduces your mobility, so it seems counter-intuitive that any form of exercise would help at all, but regular gentle exercise can strengthen the muscles around the joint to offer more support, as well as improving the flexibility of the joints and increasing your mobility. Low impact activities like swimming, walking or table tennis will also keep your heart healthy – and studies have shown that it can improve concentration and boost your mood. The benefits of exercise are varied, including better cardiovascular function, weight loss, improved mental health, reduced chances of diseases such as stroke, high blood pressure or diabetes, increased fitness levels, a better immune system and improved sleep patterns.
If you struggle to exercise sometimes, don’t beat yourself up: the body needs rest sometimes to recover properly. The aim of exercising for people with MSK conditions is not to reach a certain level of fitness, but to increase range of movement, reduce pain and give your well-being a boost. It is important that you exercise safely and regularly in order to get the full benefit. A little stiffness or discomfort is normal at first, but if any exercises cause you pain, stop immediately. Always stretch before any activity to warm up the muscles and help prevent injury and remember to stretch afterwards to cool down gently to protect your body from any damage.
Download our well-being booklet for more details on exercise for people with arthritis.