Easy & Low-Impact Exercises for People With Osteoarthritis

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Bonnie Simpson Mason, MD, and Vani Sabesan, MD


Osteoarthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States, affecting more than 22 million adults. Nearly equal numbers of women and men have the condition, but women tend to develop symptoms after age 55, about 10 years later than men do.1

Excess weight is strongly linked to osteoarthritis because it places added stress on the joints. An ongoing study of people living in Framingham, Mass., found that people who were overweight as young adults had a higher rate of knee osteoarthritis early in their 30s and 40s. In the Nurses' Health Study, women who were the heaviest at age 18 had up to 7-times greater risk for severe hip osteoarthritis compared to lightest weight women.1

Exercise is considered the most effective non-drug treatment for reducing pain and improving movement in osteoarthritis. Three core kinds of exercise should be integrated for people with osteoarthritis: flexibility, endurance or aerobic exercises, and strengthening exercises. Each one plays a role in maintaining and improving your ability to move and function.2

For the full commentary, visit Start Moving, Start Living.



  1. Exercise: Rx for overcoming osteoarthritis [published online September 2007]. Harvard Health Publishing. https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/exercise-rx-for-overcoming-osteoarthritis.
  2. Exercising with osteoarthritis. Arthritis Foundation. https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/exercise/benefits/osteoarthritis-exercise.php.

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