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The benefits of physical activity for arthritis

Living with arthritis can be challenging, but regular physical activity can be a powerful ally in managing its symptoms and improving your quality of life.

In this article, we’ll explore the remarkable benefits of physical activity for people with arthritis. From reducing pain and stiffness to enhancing mobility and overall function, let’s discover how embracing movement can empower you on your journey to a more active life.

Alleviating pain and stiffness

Arthritis often brings along the unwelcome companions of pain and stiffness. However, engaging in regular physical activity can work wonders in alleviating these symptoms. Physical activity helps lubricate the joints, strengthen the surrounding muscles and improve flexibility. This can lead to improved joint function and a reduction in pain and stiffness.1

Improving mobility and joint function

Targeted exercises can enhance the range of motion in your joints, while strengthening the muscles around the affected joints provides added support, stability, and protection. Over time, this can help make it easier to perform daily activities with greater ease.

Enhancing overall function

Regular physical activity can significantly enhance your overall function and well-being too. Exercise boosts cardiovascular health, increases energy levels, and can help improve your mood. It also helps manage weight, which can reduce stress on the joints and lead to an improvement in arthritis symptoms.1

Finding the right exercises

Finding the right exercises that suit your condition and abilities is crucial. Here are some options to consider:

  1. Range of motion exercises: improve joint flexibility and range of motion with exercises like neck rotations, shoulder circles, wrist bends, ankle circles, and knee extensions.
  2. Stretching exercises: lengthen and relax muscles to increase flexibility and reduce stiffness. Perform gentle stretches for major muscle groups, including hamstrings, calves, chest, and shoulders.
  3. Low-impact aerobic exercises: enjoy gentle activities that provide cardiovascular benefits without straining the joints, such as walking, swimming, cycling, water aerobics, and using an elliptical machine. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week.
  4. Strength training exercises: strengthen the muscles around the affected joints with exercises like leg presses, bicep curls, triceps extensions, chest presses, and seated rows. Start with light weights or resistance bands and gradually increase intensity.
  5. Tai Chi: benefit from this low-impact ancient Chinese practice that combines flowing movements, deep breathing, and meditation. Tai Chi improves balance, flexibility, and body awareness, making it particularly suitable for individuals with arthritis.
  6. Yoga: enhance flexibility, balance, and strength through physical postures, breathing exercises, and relaxation techniques. Look for yoga classes designed for individuals with arthritis or joint-related issues.

Remember, it’s important to consult with your healthcare professional (such as your GP, physical therapist or exercise physiologist) before starting any exercise program, especially if you have arthritis. They can provide personalised recommendations and guidance based on your specific condition, limitations, and goals.

For more information about being active with arthritis, have a look at the Better Health Channel’s Arthritis and Exercise fact sheet. It includes helpful suggestions and cautions, and provides information about the benefit of water exercise if you have arthritis.

Get Active Victoria also provides a range of low impact videos with activities like stretching, yoga and Tai Chi.


  1. The Better Health Channel. Arthritis and Exercise [Internet]. Department of Health, State Government of Victoria, Australia. Updated 2018 Jul 9 [cited 2024 Feb 23]. Available from:

Last updated: March 6, 2024 at: 11:33 am