Osteoarthritis and exercise: Getting the right balance

osteo and exercise

During winter, many people who suffer from osteoarthritis experience an increase in joint pain, inflammation and stiffness. One likely reason for this is that people move and exercise less in the colder months. Regular exercise can reduce some of the symptoms of arthritis, and helps to improve joint mobility and strength.

However, it is important to plan any new exercise in consultation with your doctor or physiotherapist. Your physiotherapist can help you choose gentle exercise that suits your preferences, the severity of your symptoms and any other health considerations.

“While inflamed and painful joints need rest, not exercising can cause muscle weakness, pain and stiffness,” says Baptcare Day Therapy Centre physiotherapist Bessie Chui. “So getting the balance right is important.”

“We help people over 65 to achieve an active lifestyle, which can also help beat the winter blues. People who are interested can simply call to make an appointment for an initial assessment.”

Exercise can help with flexibility, strength and overall fitness. As well as improving your sleep and mood, it can also help you maintain a healthy weight and regulate your blood sugar level.

Some gentle types of exercise that could be suitable include:

  • Swimming or warm water exercises
  • Tai chi
  • Walking or Nordic walking (walking with Nordic Poles)
  • Chair exercises
  • Strength training
  • Dancing.


  • Always plan any new exercise in consultation with a physiotherapist or doctor.
  • Start gently and increase the intensity of exercise gradually over time.
  • If an activity causes you pain or increases your pain beyond what is normal, stop the activity.
  • Don’t exercise a painful, inflamed or hot joint. Instead, gently move the joint through its range of movement to help reduce stiffness and improve circulation.

Fore more information download our Health Bulletin Osteoarthritis and Older Adults

Sources: Move Australian Physiotherapy Association Better Health