Exercising with Arthritic Knees

Exercising with Arthritic Knees: How to Keep Moving

Arthritis can cause significant pain and discomfort in the knees, making exercise seem impossible. The truth is, however, that physical activity is essential for keeping joints flexible and strong, and can even help manage arthritis pain. Those with arthritic knees should focus on exercises that reduce pressure on the joint, as well as activities that promote balance and mobility.

Understand Your Limitations

Before starting an exercise routine, it’s important to understand your limitations. Arthritic knees may cause difficulty in bending, kneeling, and squatting. When exercising, it’s important to take into account any pain or discomfort. If you experience any pain or swelling during an exercise, stop and rest. Seeing a physical therapist can help you understand the best exercises for your specific condition.

Low-Impact Cardio

Cardio activity is important for heart health, but high-impact exercises may not be ideal for those with arthritic knees. Low-impact cardio activities such as swimming, cycling, and walking can provide cardiovascular benefits without putting too much strain on the joints. Water aerobics can also be a great option as it reduces the pressure of gravity on the joints.

Strength Training

Strength training helps to build strength and flexibility in the muscles around the knee joint. Leg lifts and extensions, as well as wall squats and isometric exercises, can help strengthen the area. Exercises with resistance bands can also help to build muscle strength.


Stretching is essential for those with arthritic knees, as it helps to keep the muscles and tendons around the joint flexible and strong. Gentle stretches such as leg swings and hamstring stretches can help improve range of motion in the knee joint.

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Balance and Coordination

Maintaining balance and coordination is also important for those with arthritic knees. Activities such as tai chi, yoga, and pilates can help improve balance and coordination. Standing on one foot or marching in place can also help to improve balance.


Best Exercises For Arthritic Knees

As the number of people living with arthritis continues to grow, many are looking for ways to manage their condition and reduce pain. For those with arthritic knees, the right exercises can help to improve the range of motion, strengthen the muscles around the joint, and reduce the risk of further damage.

In general, low-impact exercises are the best choice for those with arthritic knees. Swimming, cycling, and Tai Chi are all excellent options that can be adapted to suit individual needs. Walking can also be beneficial, but it is important to make sure that the surface is level and shock absorbing to reduce the risk of further injury.

Water-based exercises are particularly helpful for those with arthritis. Water provides resistance that helps to strengthen the muscles around the knee, while also supporting the joint so that the weight is lifted off. Pool exercises can be gentle and low impact, allowing for greater freedom of movement and less pain.

Other exercises for arthritic knees include heel slides, mini squats, and quadriceps sets. Heel slides work to improve knee extension, while mini squats and quadriceps sets help to improve strength in the legs. Stretching before and after exercise is also important to help reduce stiffness and prevent further injury.

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Finally, it is important to remember that everyone is different, and the best type of exercise will depend on the severity of symptoms and the individual’s overall fitness level. It is recommended to speak to a physical therapist before beginning any new exercise program to ensure that the exercises are tailored to the individual’s needs.

If done correctly, exercises can help to improve the range of motion and reduce pain in arthritic knees. Low-impact exercises, such as swimming and cycling, are particularly beneficial, as are water-based exercises and simple stretching exercises. With the right approach, those with arthritic knees can achieve a better quality of life.



Exercising with arthritic knees can be challenging, but it is important to keep moving and maintain an active lifestyle. Low-impact cardio activities, strength training, and stretching can all help to reduce pain and improve mobility. It’s also important to focus on balance, coordination, and flexibility to ensure you stay safe and healthy. Speak to your doctor or physical therapist to find the best exercise plan for you.

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