When you suffer from pain and stiffness on a daily basis, exercise might be the last thing you feel like doing. However, exercise should be an important part of everyone’s daily life, especially if you have arthritis, because being inactive increases your risk of being overweight and developing heart disease, certain cancers and osteoporosis. The best knee arthritis treatment is exercise.

Being overweight puts more strain on your joints and can both cause and worsen arthritis symptoms. RA itself can affect the heart and raise the risk of osteoporosis, and some of the medications commonly prescribed for arthritis, for example steroids, can weaken the bones. Taking regular exercise can help to reduce these risks and improve muscle strength, joint mobility and posture, as well as encourage weight loss, reduce stress levels and even ease pain and stiffness. In a survey of people with OA by Arthritis Care, 57 per cent said that they exercise to help manage their condition.

What are the benefits of different types of exercise?

Different types of exercise offer specific benefits. For example, low-impact aerobic activities such as walking, swimming and cycling can improve general fitness and strength without putting too much strain on the joints. Gentle stretching exercises like yoga, t’ai chi and pilates help to loosen up the affected joints, improving flexibility and mobility, and also lengthen the muscles and tendons and increase muscle tone.

Working with knee arthritis

Working with knee arthritis can be difficult, depending on your level of disability. However, employment not only improves your financial position, but can also boost your physical and emotional well-being.

The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) states that employers must not discriminate against a disabled person in the workplace and covers a range of issues including recruitment and the provision of appropriate facilities to enable you to do your job. Not everyone with arthritis is covered by the DDA: according to the act, a disabled person is someone with ‘a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities’.