Frequently Asked Questions

11. Can exercise help treat osteoarthritis?

Yes, exercise is one of the best treatments. Exercise can improve mood and outlook, decrease pain, and assist in maintaining a healthy weight. The amount and form of exercise will depend on which joints are involved, how stable the joints are, whether or not the joint is swollen, and whether a joint replacement has already been done. Ask your doctor or physical therapist what exercises are best for you.

The following types of exercise are part of a well-rounded arthritis treatment plan.

  • Strengthening exercises. These exercises strengthen muscles that support joints affected by arthritis. They can be performed with weights or with exercise bands, inexpensive devices that add resistance.
  • Aerobic activities. These are exercises, such as brisk walking or low-impact aerobics, that get your heart pumping and can keep your lungs and circulatory system in shape.
  • Range-of-motion activities. These keep your joints limber.
  • Balance and agility exercises. These help you maintain your balance and reduce your risk of falling.

To see examples of these exercises for older adults, go to Exercises to Try or visit Go4Life® the National Institute on Aging’s exercise and physical activity program for older adults.

Studies also show that people with knee osteoarthritis who exercise appropriately feel less pain and function better.

(Watch the video to learn more about how exercise can help people with osteoarthritis. To enlarge the video, click the brackets in the lower right-hand corner. To reduce the video, press the Escape (Esc) button on your keyboard.)