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For people with arthritis, inactivity and lack of exercise can result in health risks, including stiff joints, weak muscles and poor balance. Inactivity can also lead to more pain. People with arthritis who regularly exercise have more energy, less pain and generally function better each day.

Focusing your workouts around these three exercises will help with your arthritis:


Flexibility exercises

By doing exercises involving stretching and full range of motion, you can improve and maintain flexibility in the affected areas, resulting in improved posture and a lower risk of injuries. In addition to yoga and tai chi, any stretching routines that involve holding each stretch for about 15-30 seconds will work. Do 5 to 10 minutes of range-of-motion exercises in the morning to loosen your joints and prepare for the day. If you want to reduce stiffness in the morning, do these exercises at night. Try doing them 3 to 5 times a week for maximum benefit.


Strengthening exercises

Strengthening exercises are meant to work the muscles harder than flexibility exercises, improving joint support and reducing joint stress as a result. These exercises must include some sort of resistance to challenge the muscles without increasing joint pain. For example, you can use elastic bands, lift weights with dumbbells or use weight machines. Strengthening exercises should be done 2 to 3 times a week with 8 to 10 repetitions per exercise. For older adults, try doing 10 to 15 repetitions, with a lower weight load.


Aerobic exercises

Aerobic exercises, also known as cardio, include activities that involve movements in a repetitive fashion, such as running, walking, swimming or biking. For people with arthritis, aerobic exercises can improve sleep, mood, and overall health. Aerobic activity can also include daily activities such as walking the dog or mowing the lawn. Try doing about 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic exercises 4 to 5 days per week. If that seems like too much, try doing shorter exercise sessions more often.


Discuss your exercise plan with your rheumatologist. By incorporating regular exercise into your daily routine, you can develop a more comfortable lifestyle living with arthritis.

Weekly Health Tips are brought to you by UCF Health, the College of Medicine’s physician practice. Offering primary and specialty care under one roof, UCF Health treats patients age 16 and up in primary care and age 18 and up for specialty care. Most major insurance plans are accepted. Two locations are now open: the original in East Orlando at Quadrangle and University boulevards just blocks from the main UCF campus, and the newest one in Medical City at Narcoossee Road and Tavistock Lakes Boulevard. Information for both facilities can be found at, or call (407) 266-DOCS to schedule an appointment.

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