Exercise to Ease Arthritis Pain

Health care providers can talk to arthritis patients about physical activity and exercise as an option to ease arthritis pain.

Physical activity and exercise ease arthritis pain and improve the quality of life of adults living with arthritis. More than 58 million US adults have arthritis.

CDC recognizes that health care providers counsel their arthritis patients to be physically active. Adults with arthritis can decrease pain and improve function by about 40% by being physically active.

Woman in a park stretching in preparation for exercise.

Counseling Arthritis Patients

Health care providers should talk to their patients about physical activity and exercise as an option to ease arthritis pain.

A study1 found that arthritis patients receiving health care providers’ counseling for exercise increased from approximately 50% in 2002 to 60% in 2014. Yet, 2 in 5 patients with arthritis are not receiving health care provider counseling for exercise.

Health Care Providers: Improving Your Arthritis Patients’ Health

  • Counsel for low-impact physical activities—Walking, biking, swimming, and water activities are all good non-drug ways to ease arthritis pain and are safe for most adults. These forms of exercise can also improve joint function and improve mood. Health care providers can discuss exercise options with their patients and determine which physical activity is most appropriate.
  • Urge 150 minutes per week—It is recommended that people with arthritis be moderately physically active for 150 minutes per week. For those who are uncertain about how to exercise safely, CDC recognizes physical activity programs that are proven to improve the quality of life of people with arthritis.
  • Promote physical activity classes—Endorse classes available at local YMCAs, parks, and recreation or community centers that can teach adults with arthritis how to feel their best. These classes have been shown to reduce pain and disability related to arthritis, and improve movement and mood.
  • Suggest self-management education—There are workshops designed to teach people with arthritis and other chronic conditions how to manage their symptoms and develop more confidence in managing health problems affecting their lives. Classes are led by people who have experience living with arthritis or other chronic conditions.
Young woman attending an online doctor appointment via laptop.

Health providers should review patient records and talk to their patients about their condition and management plan.

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