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Exercising With Arthritis

At one time, it was believed that people with arthritis should rest their joints but we now know that this is not the case. In fact, regular physical activity can actually help improve function, mobility and provide pain relief. Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and lupus can all benefit from more activity. In addition, exercise can also help manage other chronic conditions such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

If you are new to exercise, follow these guidelines from the Department of Health and Human Services for active adults and active older adults. Find activities that work well with your abilities and make sure it's fun! Find a partner to help keep yourself accountable.

Aerobic exercises (cardio) as well as flexibility exercises are important for maintaining health. Here are some examples to get you thinking. Aim for 3 days (150 min.) of aerobic exercise a week and incorporate flexibility exercises every day.

Moderate Intensity Aerobic Exercise:

  • Brisk Walking
  • Bicycling
  • Swimming
  • Mowing the grass, heavy yard work
  • Doubles tennis
  • Social dancing
  • Conditioning Machines (e.g., stair climbers, elliptical, stationary bike)
  • Tai Chi, yoga

Vigorous Intensity Aerobic Exercise:

  • Jogging/running
  • Singles tennis
  • Swimming
  • Jumping rope
  • Conditioning Machines (e.g., stair climbers, elliptical, stationary bike)
  • Sports (e.g., soccer, basketball, football, racquetball)
  • Aerobic dance or spinning classes

Muscle Strengthening Exercise (aim for at least 2 days a week):

  • Lifting weights using machines, dumbbells, or weight cuffs
  • Working with resistance bands
  • Using your own body weight as resistance (e.g., push-ups, sit ups)
  • Heavy gardening (e.g., digging, shoveling)

Are you having trouble exercising? Try these S.M.A.R.T. activity tips.

If you want a free copy of the Exercise & Physical Activity Guide from the National Institute on Aging, follow this link-



  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Department of Health and Human Services

Today's post was written by Kristin Bogdonas, MPH. She is a Certified Health Education Specialist and Nutrition & Wellness Educator covering Mercer, Henry, Rock Island and Stark Counties. She specializes in local foods, seasonal eating, program planning, and food safety/preservation.