As a personal trainer and consultant I am often faced with clients who avoid exercising due to pain in their shoulders, wrists, knees, hips and back. Many factors can contribute to the pain, such as injury, overuse, or incorrect movements in daily activities. However, Arthritis with Osteoarthritis are the most common type in people over the age of 50.

Since there are many types of Arthritis (a list too long to mention here), it is imperative that a proper diagnosis be given so the appropriate plan for treatment can be applied. Since the severity of the arthritis also varies, so should the intensity and choice of recommended activities. Before starting any fitness regimen, a doctor’s clearance to rule out any serious underlying conditions that may be causing joint pain is crucial.

Here is a list of arthritic disorders that can cause pain and discomfort, thus discouraging those affected from working out.

Osteoarthritis: Also known as degenerative joint disease, it can occur in any joint but most commonly affects the fingers, hips, knees and spine. The pain is caused by bare bones rubbing against each other due to the damage and wear to articular cartilage covering these bones.

Rheumatoid Arthritis: This type of arthritis is usually symmetrical, affecting both sides of the body and beginning in the smaller joints. Researchers believe it may be caused by a virus or bacteria that attacks the immune system thus leading to swelling of the joints and related pain. It is more serious as it can even lead to an early death.

Fibromyalgia: This is a chronic disorder resulting in pain in numerous areas of the body, sometimes leading to sleep deprivation and chronic fatigue. Those suffering from this disorder find it especially challenging and often impossible to sustain an exercise routine due to the sheer lack of energy and constant pain.

There is no “cure” for joint pain, but rather treatments that aid in pain management and strengthening of the surrounding muscles to limit pain over the long term.

Treatments include:
· Lifestyle Changes (Exercise!)
· Medications
· Surgery

In that order of course.

So we are going to focus on the first plan of action: Exercise!

The benefits of regular exercise include:
• Maintenance of bone density
• Lessening of joint pain
• Loss of excess weight that can put unnecessary strain on the joints
• Improvement of balance therefore decreasing the risk of falling and damaging the bones and joints

Although exercise may not “cure” your arthritis, it will often reduce symptoms by improving circulation and range of motion. Some exercises may even stimulate the flow of synovial fluid promoting ease of joint movement.

Here are three commonly affected joints that can hinder our desire to work out, along with a list of recommended joint specific exercises to help attain mobility and strength


Arthritis pain in the wrists can become aggravating when trying to perform daily activities such as opening a lid to a jar, turning a doorknob, or even picking up light items. When the pain is severe, avoid heavy lifting, manual labour or sports such as golf or anything where a tight grip is required.

Recommended exercises may include:
• Wrist Circles
• Windshield Wipers
• Flex And Extend
• Tennis Ball Circles


Arthritis pain in the hips can sometimes prevent one from simply walking, as it may lie in the groin, thigh or glute. It can range from a dull ache to a sharp stabbing pain. Although the exact cause is not known, being overweight may be a contributing factor. Regular exercise and losing excess weight may help to undergo hip surgery.

Recommended exercises may include:
• Chair Stand
• Hip Raises
• Hip Extension
• Inner Leg Stretch
• Double Hip Rotation


Arthritis pain in the knees often develops slowly and more noticeably after a prolonged period of inactivity such as in the morning. Swelling may occur due to excess fluid in knee from bone spurs that have formed. Further inactivity causes muscles in and surrounding your knee to weaken thus causing instability in the joint. As a result, the knee may either buckle or lock up disabling you from being able to bend or straighten your leg.

Recommended exercises may include:
• Lying Leg Raise
• Lying Hamstring Stretch
• Step Ups
• Sit To Stand
• Partial Squats

In addition to performing these joint specific movements, a moderate daily exercise routine is key for maintaining overall health and well-being as well as weight maintenance.

Those suffering from arthritis pain should choose low impact exercises such as:
• Walking
• Stationary Bike
• Eliptical
• Swimming
• Yoga

About the Author

Personal Trainer at Pure Fitness/ Private In-home Trainer
Over fifteen years of helping clients look and feel their personal best through tough but balanced workouts. Former competitive gymnast and coach.