Fact: People with arthritis, even those with osteoarthritis of the knees, should exercise regularly to reduce pain and strengthen muscles around joints.
“Low-impact exercises help stabilize the joints,” says Matteson. “Keeping the muscles strong and limber helps to improve joint motion and reduce pain.” He recommends simple exercises like walking and biking. Tai chi and gentle yoga can also provide needed stretching and strengthening of joint muscles.
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The Arthritis Foundation encourages arthritis patients to partake in exercise to slow the progression of arthritis and the onset of chronic osteoarthritis. “We are not telling patients to go run a marathon, but exercise can really help, and losing weight can control joint pain as well,” says Dr. White. “If you keep your weight in the ideal BMI range and are physically active — keeping your muscles around your joints strong with appropriate strengthening and stretching without joint injury — you can slow the symptoms.”
The Arthritis Foundation provides patients lots of fitness options and exercise programs on its website.