Bone health: Exercising with arthritis

If you’re one of the 54 million adults in the US with doctor-diagnosed arthritis, you probably know the struggle of getting enough exercise. With arthritis, certain types of exercise are difficult because you’re sore and in pain, but not exercising leads to even more soreness and joint pain—and thus the cycle continues. There are over 100 different kinds of arthritis, all with different causes and treatments, but in general getting adequate physical activity can reduce arthritis pain and improve physical function by about 40%. If you have arthritis and want to boost your physical activity, here’s some important information to keep in mind.

  • Consult a professional. Before beginning any new fitness regimen, it’s important to consult an expert. A physical therapist can help you with strengthening exercises to stabilize affected joints and exercise safely. They can also recommend modifications to certain exercises to accommodate arthritic knees, elbows or other problem areas.
  • No pain no gain? Not quite. It’s normal to feel a little uncomfortable when you’re pushing yourself during a workout, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore pain. If you experience pain or anything more than mild discomfort, stop. You may need to decrease the amount of time you’re exercising or the intensity. Get plenty of rest in between workouts and, when in doubt, call your doctor.
  • Slow and steady is just fine. You don’t need to run for miles or lift heavy weights to reap the benefits of physical fitness. Walking is a fantastic, low-impact exercise that’s perfect for those with arthritis. Yoga, Tai Chi, swimming and water aerobics are also gentle activities that can do wonders for your body. Whether it’s 10 minutes or an hour, any amount of regular physical activity is better than none.
  • Don’t forget to stretch. You should always cool down after any rigorous physical activity, but this is especially important for those with arthritis. A proper cooldown that includes stretching affected muscles will help prevent delayed onset soreness and stiffness. Plus, the increased flexibility that comes from long stretches results in a better range of motion overall and lessened joint stiffness.

If you’re interested in exploring new ways to stay active, you can request a Silver&Fit® kit as part of your Priority Health Medicare Advantage individual plan. Most kits include a DVD, information booklet and quick start guide. You can request an at-home fitness kit by going to, or call Silver&Fit toll-free at 888.894.0525 (TTY/TDD 711).

Silver&Fit® is included with all individual Priority Health Medicare Advantage plans and some employer group plans. Silver&Fit® is not included with Medigap plans. Check your Evidence of Coverage (EOC) for details. The Silver&Fit® program is provided by American Specialty Health Fitness, Inc., a subsidiary of American Specialty Health Incorporated (ASH). All programs and services are not available in all areas. Silver&Fit® is a federally registered trademark of ASH.