Exercise is an important part of managing osteoarthritis.

Regular exercise will keep your cartilage nourished, your muscles strong, and your joints flexible.  Exercise will also help you to manage your body weight.  Every extra pound you carry puts 4-6 X the force through your hips and knees, adding extra stress to your joint.

Talk to your physiotherapist or doctor about what kinds of exercises are right for you.

General exercise tips

  • Exercise in water to reduce the load on your joints.  Try walking in the pool, swimming or doing low-impact water aerobics.  Read more about exercise you can do in the water:
  • Try other low impact activities such as the stationary bike. Avoid exercises that involve jumping and twisting.
  • If you enjoy walking, consider using a walking aid to reduce the stress on your joint while still allowing you to stay active.  A cane or walking poles can reduce the force on your hips and knees by up to 40% and may help you to walk further with less pain.  Read more about using nordic walking poles to reduce the load on your joints:
  • Start slowly and build gradually. Keep your exercises short and easy when you start.  As you get stronger, your exercises can get harder.

Include a variety of exercises:

  • Movement (range of motion) and stretching exercises to keep your joints flexible.
  • Strength exercises to build muscles.  Strong muscles help to support and stabilize your sore joint.  Muscle also burns more calories than fat.
  • Balance exercises to reduce your risk of falls.  Your balance can worsen when you have a joint with osteoarthritis and your risk of falling can increase.    For more information on preventing falls go to the VCH Falls Program website.

Stop before you exercise too muchIf your joint is sore for more than 2 hours after exercising you may have pushed yourself too hard.  Try exercising for a shorter period of time, taking breaks, or finding a new activity.


Learn more about exercise and osteoarthritis:

Specific exercises can help to keep your joint moving and build strength.  A physiotherapist can help determine the best exercises for you.

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