Exercise is one of the best things you can do to help keep your muscles strong and
reduce joint pain and stiffness. And it can help you reach and stay at a
want to make sure that you don't hurt your joints when you exercise. Before you
get started, ask your doctor what kind of activity would be good for
These tips can help you exercise safely:
especially if you haven't exercised for a while. Start slowly, and don't push yourself too hard. Then
work your way up to where you can exercise for a longer time or do the exercise
with more effort.
If your joint pain gets worse after exercise, try using ice on the joints that hurt. You may want to take an over-the-counter pain medicine before you exercise, such as acetaminophen (for example,
Tylenol) or a
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as ibuprofen (for example, Advil or Motrin) or naproxen (for example, Aleve). Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
Rest your joints if they are
swollen. For example, if your knees are swollen, don't use the stairs for a few
days. Walk a shorter distance, and switch to swimming or riding an indoor
Know when you have sore muscles and not joint pain. If
your muscles are sore, you can safely exercise through the soreness. (You could
exercise through joint pain too, but it's not safe to do so.)
If you have
joint pain that lasts for more than a day after you exercise, you need
Rest the joint until
your pain gets back to the level that is normal for you.
Exercise for less time or with less effort.
Try another exercise that doesn't cause pain.
Health Tools help you make wise health decisions or take action to improve your health.
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The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) is the
nationally recognized professional association of approximately 35,000
occupational therapists, occupational therapy assistants, and students of
occupational therapy. AOTA's mission is to advance the quality, availability, use,
and support of occupational therapy through standard-setting, advocacy,
education, and research on behalf of its members and the public.
Arthritis Foundation (U.S.)
P.O. Box 7669
Atlanta, GA 30357
The Arthritis Foundation provides grants to help find a
cure, prevention methods, and better treatment options for arthritis. It also
provides a large number of community-based services nationwide to make living
with arthritis easier, including self-help courses; water- and land-based
exercise classes; support groups; home study groups; instructional videotapes;
public forums; free educational brochures and booklets; the national, bimonthly
consumer magazine Arthritis Today; and continuing
education courses and publications for health professionals.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.