Exercise and Arthritis

How much exercise should I do and how often?

Every health - related guideline specifies that everyone, regardless of their condition, should aim to do exercise everyday.


Although having Arthritis can make this recommendation difficult to reach, with an appropriately structured program that combines strength, mobility and cardiovascular exercise, it is certainly possible to attain this recommendation.

Ideally, we should all aim to do at least 30 minutes of exercise that makes us a bit short of breath five times a week. It’s also recommended that we spend 30 minutes a day on our feet – such as walking or climbing stairs.

Try three or four 10-minute sessions throughout the day if it suits you better than doing it in one go.

If you have joint pain, start gently and gradually increase the length of time you’re exercising. You can break this into smaller chunks if you need to. Doing 5–10 minutes of exercise each day is important to keep your joints moving and your muscles strong.

How will I know if I’ve overdone it?

If an hour after you’ve finished exercising, you’re still aching or feel more sore than when you started, you may have overdone it. You should feel as if your muscles have done some work and have stretched a little after exercise, but you should not be exhausted or in more discomfort.

Most people take a while to learn how much exercise they can do. Have a rest for the following day and start again the day after, but halve the amount of exercise. Then gradually increase it by a few minutes each day.

Having a Physiotherapist or Exercise Physiologist develop an individualised program for you will make sure that you are safe and dont overdo it.

I'm new to exercise – how do I get started? 

It’s never too late to start keeping yourself fit. Your body is designed to move and not doing so can harm the tissues in and around your joints. Exercise and sport are good for your physical and mental health.

Many people are afraid to exercise because they believe that it damages their joints. But keeping active will help to:

  • keep your joints supple

  • reduce pain

  • strengthen your muscles and bones.

Start off by doing a small amount of gentle exercise that’s in your comfort zone, and gradually increase the amount you do – both in terms of the time you spend exercising and the effort you put in.

We always recommend that you get a clearance from your GP before starting an exercise program.

How can I stay motivated?

To stay motivated, it's important to:

  • do exercise that you enjoy

  • set realistic goals - it's normal for these goals to change as your condition changes

  • do it regularly.

Exercising with a friend or relative can be a really good way to stay motivated and have fun.


It’s important to eat well if you’re doing regular exercise. You’ll need plenty of energy, which you can get from eating lots of carbohydrates There are three types of carbohydrates, sugars starches and fibres. You should be able to get plenty or carbs in a healthy balanced diet that contains fruit, bread and dairy. Wholemeal bread, rice and pasta are great sources of starchy carbohydrates that are high in fibre.

If you’re trying to lose weight, try to reduce the fat content of your diet but don’t cut out all carbs. Always check the labels of your food and keep an eye on your recommended daily allowances of fats, protein, carbohydrates, sugar and salt.

If you don’t eat enough carbohydrates you’ll get tired and fatigued easily. Fatigue affect your technique as your muscles get tired and respond more slowly, altering the timing of your movements. This in turn may increase your risk of injury.

A healthy balanced diet should also contain protein, which is the main building block for your body and is essential for growth and repair. You should increase your protein intake if you’re regularly lifting heavy weights or building up your muscle strength to prepare for sport.


Water acts as our body’s natural cooling system, so when we exercise we need to drink plenty of it to avoid dehydration. You should drink a small glass of water before exercise and then regularly pause during activity to drink more. This is especially important if you’re exercising in a hot environment, either outside on a sunny day or in a gym.