Exercising with Arthritis

Arthritis is an inflammation of a joint with the two most common types being rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthristis. It can be characterized as pain, impaired physical function, fatigue, and adverse changes in body composition. Currently there is 34% of the population that is diagnosed with Arthritis and due to the aging population and high rate of obesity,it is expected for that number to increase to 67 million American effected by 2030.

There are over 100 rheumatic disease, but the two most common being osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis or RA, is an autoimmune, chronic inflammatory disease affecting the lining of joints and other connective tissue. RA is a slowly progressing disease that affects 1 in 12 women and 1 in 20 men in the United States. Regular exercise is effective for improving muscular strength , cardiorespiratory function, and cardiovascular health. Individuals with RA should be encouraged to pursue exercise and physical activity to reduce pain, morning joint stiffness and fatigue.

Osteoarthristis or OA is a common chronic degenerative joint disease that is more prevalent with age. The disease affects one or multiple joints (hands, hips, spine and knees) and is associated with risk factors including overweight/obesity, history of joint injury or surgery, genetic predisposition and aging. OA is thought to be the result of mechanical injury due to excessive loading or repeated low-force stressors.

Treatment for Arthritis is commonly pharmaceutical treatment and exercise, but optimal treatment of arthritis is a multidisciplinary approach involving patient education in self management, occupational therapy and exercise. Although pain and functional limitations can present challenges to physical activity, regular exercise is essential for managing these conditions.

Below is the recommendations for individuals with Arthritis from ACSM.


Frequency - 3-5 days a week

Intensity - Moderate to vigorous

Time - 150 min a week of moderate intensity or 75 min of vigorous intensity

Type - Activities with low joint stress, such as walking, cycling, or swimming


Frequency - 2-3 days a week

Intensity- 60-80%

Time - 8-12 reps and 2-4 sets

Type - Machine, free weights, or body weight


Frequency - Daily

Intensity - Move through full ROM without pain

Time - 10 reps, hold static stretch for 10-30 sec

Type - combination of dynamic and static stretching of major joints

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