Is swimming and exercising in water good for people with arthritis?

08 June 2021
Ladies swimming and doing aerobics in the swimming pool.

Swimming can be a good choice of exercise if you have arthritis because it:

  • stimulates blood circulation and can reduce muscle stiffness and ease pain
  • helps to maintain and build strength and cardiovascular fitness
  • can help make your joints more flexible and
  • the buoyancy of water reduces impact on your joints.

If you have any questions about your first trip to the pool, for example, classes, cost or access. Call your local pool and ask for more information, like if they have disabled parking spaces or if they offer any assistance to help getting into the pool.

Also, check about their swimming timetable as they may have slots for disabled or quiet swims. Use the pool finder search to find your local pool.

With COVID-19, pool operators are working so hard to make it as safe as possible. It’s likely you’ll have to book online in advance, stay distanced all the time, go ready changed with your swimming costume under clothes and walk straight to poolside.

Read Swim England’s FAQs on returning to the pool to help with any questions you may have.

Why is swimming and exercising in water a good option versus other types of exercise?

You might find specific exercises like walking, running, or cycling hard; swimming is low impact, and you can work at your own level. You can try other water-based exercises like aqua aerobics and aqua jogging.

It can be a good choice of exercise if you’re recovering from surgery to help ease stiffness and tone muscle.

Check in with your doctor before you start a new exercise regime and speak to the instructor and make them aware of your condition, if you join a class.

What are the benefits of regular exercise?

All exercise releases endorphins (feel good hormones) and there’s evidence to show swimming can benefit physical, and mental health by improving mood, sleep and reducing stress. Find out more about the benefits of swimming for boosting your health and wellbeing.

Just being in the pool makes it easier and moving in water reduces pressure on joints and can ease stiffness. Make sure you take time to warm up and cool down.

Find what works for you

You can choose to go for a swim with a friend or join a group class and make it a social event.

Try out different strokes or movements in water and if you are feeling fatigued, be gentle with yourself and do a bit less. If you notice any pain, listen to your body and take a break if you need to.

Other resources to help get you moving

  • Let’s Move is our online programme for people who want more movement in their lives.  Sign up today, and we’ll be there to support you every step of the way.   
  • 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?

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