Exercise Ideas for Hip and Knee Arthritis

Options for People Who Have Pain With Activity

exercise arthritis
Here are 6 exercise ideas if you have arthritis. Blend Images - Terry Vine / Getty Images

Exercise is important for people with arthritis and for patients who have had a joint replacement. Keeping your weight down and your muscles strong can help to delay joint replacement and improve your surgical results after joint-replacement surgery.

However, it can also be a challenge to know what activites are safe and can be performed without pain. For people with arthritis, joint pain may interfere with some exercise activities.

For those who have a joint replacement, they may be looking for options that will not lead to damage of the replacement. Here are several ways to exercise so that you are pain-free, despite your arthritis. These can also be excellent choices for people who have a joint replacement and want to ensure it lasts as long as possible.


Pilates is a terrific way to strengthen the most important muscles in the body (the core) in a low-impact, safe manner. You may think Pilates cannot stimulate a sufficient workout, but professional athletes and athletic trainers would disagree. Pilates has become a popular tool for injury treatment and prevention even with professional athletes. Pilates is safe for the joints and can help improve body mechanics.

Water Aerobics

Working out in the water is a way to perform normal activities without the impact of working out on land. Water workouts can involve aerobics, walking, jogging or just about anything else.

Even sports can be played in the water (e.g. water polo, basketball, etc.), preventing joint pain.


With swimming, your joints are supported by the water, easing arthritis pain. For people with the most severe arthritis in their hip or knee, swimming can be done with a pull-buoy to give you a good cardiovascular workout without placing any burden on your hip or knees.


Cycling is one of my favorite recommendations, because not only is this a low-impact way to exercise, but the cyclic motion of cycling is stimulating for the cartilage within a joint. Cycling gives a good muscular and cardiovascular workout and loosens up stiff joints common in people with arthritis. Start off with stationary cycling, and move outdoors as you get stronger.

Weight Machines

Training with weights can help strengthen muscles and is also an excellent way to stimulate bone health. Exercising with weights must be done safely, but with proper instruction, just about anyone can learn a few good strength-training exercises. Even with a few dumbbells and some basic knowledge, a weight workout can be perfect for arthritis.


Walking is a favorite activity of many arthritis patients. While it is not the best workout for those with arthritis, walking for exercise is certainly better than no exercise at all. So if you want to walk, then walk! There are some ways to modify your walking for a better workout, including trying interval walks and incorporating your arms.

A Word From VeryWell: Get Out and Exercise!

As you can see, there are many options for exercise, even for those with joint pain from arthritis.

Exercise has been shown to be useful for patients with arthritis both before and after joint-replacement surgery. A good routine can be performed without increasing pain and without risking damage to a recently replaced joint. While you should always discuss a new exercise program with your own physician, almost always patients find benefits when they regularly participate in an exercise activity. Don't let your arthritis lead you to a sedentary lifestyle--look for another option that will allow you to keep moving and keep strong!


Rooks DS, et al. "Effect of preoperative exercise on measures of functional status in men and women undergoing total hip and knee arthroplasty." Arthritis Rheum. 2006 Oct 15;55(5):700-8.

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