Feature Archive

Exercises Can Ease Arthritis Pain

With exercise, you strengthen muscles, reduce stiffness, improve flexibility,  and boost your mood and self-esteem.

By Jeanie Lerche Davis
WebMD Feature

Reviewed By Michael Smith

If you've got aching joints and arthritis, exercise can help. It may be hard to believe, but experts agree - moving your joints helps relieve joint pain.

"When you exercise, you strengthen the muscles around the joints, which helps take stress off joints," says Richard Weil, MEd, CDE, WebMD's fitness expert. "It also reduces joint stiffness and builds flexibility and endurance." Exercise can improve your mood and self-esteem. It helps you sleep better, keeps weight under control, and gives you more energy.

There's also a certain sense of accomplishment that comes from exercise. After all, pushing yourself to exercise - when your body hurts - isn't easy. In addition to arthritis pain relief, exercise can offset other health problems, like osteoporosis, diabetes, and heart disease.

If you're new at this, just remember - start slow, Weil advises.

Warm Up for Arthritis

Whether you have arthritis or not, a warm-up is a smart place to start. Going into an exercise activity with cold muscles can only cause pain and possibly injury. If you have arthritis, you may want to do something extra. "A lot of people like to take a warm bath or apply heat packs to joints before they do any exercise, to get the synovial [joint] fluid flowing ... it lubricates the joint," Weil tells WebMD.