Arthritis and Exercise: A Review

This one is a big one for me. Lately, more and more of my Health and Fitness members are highlighting problems relating to arthritis, but there doesn’t really seem to be a pattern or commonality amongst region of discomfort. Some members mention that they only get it in their big toe (although I am suspicious that they may be saying this to avoid lunges…); others say that they get it in their hands and other joints, but in more of a flare up that a regular occurrence with no real understanding of why.

So… I am on another fact-finding mission to determine what can be done from an exercise perspective to relieve, treat, manage, or alleviate any symptoms of arthritis!

This article will discuss what arthritis is, different types, symptoms, and the impact that exercise can have in managing or even treating arthritis.


What is Arthritis?

I recently came across an article by Linda Rath from (Arthritis Foundation) where she explained that arthritis isn’t a single disease. It refers to joint pain, with over 100 different types of arthritis and related conditions! Interestingly, it is more common amongst women. However, people of all ages, races, and sexes live with the condition. She also highlights that it isn’t related to ageing, but there are certain types that are more prevalent in older people than younger.


Common Symptoms:

The most recorded symptoms of arthritis include swelling, pain, stiffness, and diminished range of motion in joints. I suppose, the most frustrating thing I read, which is confirmed through discussions with my members, is that “symptoms vary from mild to severe and may come and go”.


Types of Arthritis:

There are four key types of arthritis: Osteoarthritis (most common), Autoimmune Inflammatory Arthritis, Infectious Arthritis, and Gout (Metabolic Arthritis). I wont go in to too much detail here, but I will link the relevant article below for you to continue if you want to read more about the types.

 I read more into Osteoarthritis (OA) being the most common type. OA in the past has been branded as “wear and tear” arthritis. But with more research, this consensus has changed in recent years. It used to be thought that it was caused by the wearing down of the cartilage in the joint, but it has now been discovered that OA affects the entire joint. It appears that it can be triggered by inflammation, injury, physically demanding jobs/labour (overuse), or simply lifestyle factors such as overweight, lack of exercise and poor diet!



Arthritis and Exercise

Here is the good news… Exercise can help manage and treat your symptoms of arthritis!!! And what’s even better is that you do not require any special exercise programme or fancy exercises to do so (unless prescribed by your doctor). Journal articles, NHS, and relevant charities all claim the same thing; “mild to moderate exercise is beneficial for people with arthritis”.

What does this actually mean though? Well, I am going to give you a few examples of how you can implement exercise to help you feel better if you are suffering from any arthritis related symptoms.

Walking – simple and effective. Low impact on your joints and help to improve circulation, reduce likelihood of heart disease, lower blood pressure and strengthens your heart.

Endurance Exercise – improves your cardiovascular system (strong heart, strong lungs). Examples include walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, or anything that gets your heart rate elevated for a period of time!

Strengthening Exercise – strong muscles support your joints. So strength training (weight training/ resistance training) can be very beneficial to manage and treat your symptoms.

To summarise, exercise can be very beneficial to treat and manage your arthritis symptoms, alongside improving your overall health and fitness – which is obviously okay as well. Now, of course there is a lot more to arthritis and this article barely makes a dent. But for me it’s all about educating myself to support my Health and Fitness members, and hopefully educate you on what systems you can introduce to your daily routine.

If you have any experience of arthritis and have found a particular exercise programme that has helped you, I would love to hear about it so leave a comment or drop me a message 😊

Get active people!

And as always if you need some advice or support, I am always just an email away



Your Local Health and Fitness Coach



NHS Website (,uk)

Arthritis Foundation (

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