How to stay active when you have arthritis

30 June 2020
Max in his running kit, lady exercising in the garden and a man sat outside with his sports bag.

Research has shown the benefits of regular exercise for people with arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions. It can help to ease stiffness and pain, strengthen your bones and joints and boost feelings of wellbeing.

Everybody is different and the key to making exercise a part of your routine is finding an activity which is right for you and that you enjoy.

We know that sometimes your arthritis symptoms can make it difficult to stay active. Energy levels and mood will change day to day which may affect motivation.

Here’s our top tips and advice from experts to help you keep active. Whether you choose to do online Pilates, walk the dog, cycling or P.E with the kids – all are beneficial.

If you have any concerns about exercising, check with your doctor and remember there is no one-size fits all approach.

Build up slowly

Walking is one of the best forms of exercise, as you can do it anywhere and at any time. Getting outside in the sun can also help you get enough vitamin D which is important for bone health. If you have been inactive for a while, don’t be surprised if you find a walk more difficult than you used to.

You don’t have to tackle everything in one go – instead take little steps and set realistic goals. Read our top walking tips.

Choose what’s right for you

If you’re looking to get into jogging or running you could try Couch to 5K.

Public Health England (PHE) have launched a nine-week Couch to 5K challenge as an accessible way of becoming active while social distancing measures remain in place.

Download the app from the Apple store or Google Play for android devices.

If you want more exercise tips, check out Escape-pain online, this free resource provides exercises to help people living with chronic pain.

“I’m not flexible or fit at all; but there are so many easy yoga sessions to follow on YouTube. You just have to remember with yoga – do what feels comfortable and rewarding for you, your body and your joints!”


If you want to get a regular stretching routine into your daily life, take a look at the NHS free workouts like these chair yoga exercises and this Pilates video specifically for people with arthritis.

Get into a regular routine

Making exercise a part of your everyday is a useful way to give structure to your day. Check out our simple exercises to help flexibility and ease pain.

“I usually attend Pilates once a week. So, even though my classes are online now this has brought some normality back into my routine which is really helpful!”


If you’re feeling anxious at the moment, your body will appreciate the exercise, if you’ve not been keeping active and this will help process any excess adrenaline that your body might be producing.

Managing your pain at home

To help you manage your pain, medical experts have come together to produce these self-management resources to give you robust advice and exercises to help support you at home.

These are supported by NHS England and Improvement, The British Orthopaedic Association, The British Society of Rheumatology, The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, Versus Arthritis and the Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance.

The information covers key areas of pain from back. hip to hand pain. You simply click on the relevant body part to get to the full list of resources to help you.

For more inspiration

“Exercise wise, I have been using the app Downdog for quick 7-minute workouts and yoga routines. I would also suggest going back to basics, do regular star jumps, on the spot jogging and lunges.”


Try Let’s Move, a programme for people with arthritis who want more movement in their lives.

Sharing experiences of your physical activity journey can be a brilliant motivator. If you're on Facebook why not join our Let's Move group?

Check out the We Are Undefeatable website. They have exercise ideas ranging from yoga to dancing in your kitchen.

Take a look at Public Health England’s selection of free 10 minute workouts or try the exercise videos on the NHS Fitness Studio.

We’re here whenever you need us.