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Low Impact Exercises for People with Arthritis

Apr 30, 2018

Individuals living with arthritis may not realize the importance of exercising, even with uncomfortable symptoms. Low impact exercise can help people maintain good health and may even reduce symptoms caused by arthritis such as joint pain and limited range of movement. In addition to these benefits, exercise can also reduce fatigue and improve energy levels. However, not all forms of exercise are ideal for people living with arthritis.

The key to creating the perfect routine is to incorporate a combination of strength training, mild to moderate cardiovascular exercise and aerobic movement. These categories target all areas of the body and make for an excellent total body workout. Individuals who are experiencing pain or discomfort during exercise should stop immediately and take a break before attempting to continue. Pushing the body despite uncomfortable effects can result in injuries. Discover more about the three most effective forms of exercise for arthritis and their pros and cons below.

The Most Common Low Impact Exercises

1. Strength training with resistance bands or light weights

Strength training is a critical part of any well balanced workout regimen for both men and women. It is especially useful for people living with arthritis because it increases muscle mass around the affected joints, promotes good circulation and can improve balance and stability. Heavy weights are not necessary to build muscle. Instead, individuals with arthritis can focus on using light dumbbells, ankle weights or even resistance bands. It can be easy to overdo it when it comes to strength training. To avoid feeling sore or excessively fatigued, beginners should focus on performing high quality but short sets of up to 15 repetitions.

2. Mild to moderate cardio such as bicycling, walking and swimming

Cardiovascular exercise improves heart health, boosts mood and also contributes to weight loss. Low impact cardio such as bicycling, walking and swimming are all excellent options for people with arthritis. These exercises will not hurt the joints or cause excessive soreness or tightness of the muscles the day after a workout. Most professionals agree that 30 minutes of daily cardio is sufficient, but this number can be adjusted if needed.

Cardiovascular exercise improves heart health, boosts mood and also contributes to weight loss. Low impact cardio such as bicycling, walking and swimming are all excellent options for people with arthritis. These exercises will not hurt the joints or cause excessive soreness or tightness of the muscles the day after a workout. Most professionals agree that 30 minutes of daily cardio is sufficient, but this number can be adjusted if needed.

3. Aerobic exercises such as dancing and hiking

Aerobic movements such as dancing and hiking do not necessarily challenge your heart to the degree that cardio does, but are still necessary for good health. These exercises stretch the body and can reduce stiffness as well. They should not be used in place of cardio. Instead, try rotating between aerobic and cardiovascular exercises each week for the best results. People with arthritis should not be afraid of interval training. High intensity interval training (HIIT) is a form of exercising that includes a brief sprint or burst followed by a generous break period. This approach to cardio has been shown to increase fat loss and reduce muscle loss. Beginners can start with 10-20 second long bursts and a two minute break then adjust the increments over time. One additional benefit for people with severe arthritis is many of these can be performed in water. This reduces impact even more.

Facts About Arthritis and Fitness

  • Consistent exercise can reduce the symptoms of arthritis
  • A well balanced fitness routine improves range of motion
  • Individuals with arthritis can still perform high intensity interval training (HIIT) with low impact exercises
  • Heat can reduce inflammation and prevent pain during a workout
  • Starting with a gentle warm up and stretches before exercising can reduce injury