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Exercise is one of the best things you can do to help keep your muscles strong and
reduce joint pain and stiffness. And it can help you reach and stay at a
healthy weight.

But you
want to make sure that you don’t hurt your joints when you exercise. Before you
get started, ask your doctor what kind of activity would be good for

These tips can help you exercise safely:

  • Pace yourself,
    especially if you haven’t exercised for a while. Start slowly, and don’t push yourself too hard. Then
    work your way up to where you can exercise for a longer time or do the exercise
    with more effort.
  • Manage pain.
    If your joint pain gets worse after exercise, try using ice on the joints that hurt. You may want to take an over-the-counter pain medicine before you exercise, such as acetaminophen (for example,
    Tylenol) or a
    nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as ibuprofen (for example, Advil or Motrin) or naproxen (for example, Aleve). Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Rest your joints if they are
    swollen. For example, if your knees are swollen, don’t use the stairs for a few
    days. Walk a shorter distance, and switch to swimming or riding an indoor

Know when you have sore muscles and not joint pain. If
your muscles are sore, you can safely exercise through the soreness. (You could
exercise through joint pain too, but it’s not safe to do so.)

If you have
joint pain that lasts for more than a day after you exercise, you need

  • Rest the joint until
    your pain gets back to the level that is normal for you.
  • Exercise for less time or with less effort.
  • Try another exercise that doesn’t cause pain.

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Other Places To Get Help


American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc.

Arthritis Foundation (U.S.)


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD – Internal Medicine
Martin J. Gabica, MD – Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Joan Rigg, PT, OCS – Physical Therapy

Current as ofOctober 10, 2017