4 Strength Training Exercises for People with Osteoarthritis

If you have arthritis, an inflammatory disease that causes joint pain, it’s important to exercise if your doctor has cleared you for it. Even though you may not feel like working out, moving and strengthening your body can help ease pain and improve your quality of life.

Osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis, primarily causes discomfort in the neck and back, knees, hips and shoulders, says UNC Health certified personal trainer Mary Hale, MS, MPH.

In this video, Hale demonstrates how people with osteoarthritis can safely perform four key strength training exercises to alleviate pain and joint stiffness:

  • Squats (targets hips and knees)
  • Hip extension and flexion (targets low spine and hips)
  • Seated leg extension (targets knees)
  • Overhead arm extension and lateral arm extension (targets back and shoulders)

In addition to resistance training, aerobic exercises such as walking, swimming and biking are good options for people who have arthritis. Aim for 150 minutes per week (30 minutes a day for five days) of moderate aerobic activity and two to three days a week of strength training activity—like the exercises in the video.

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