What Types of Activities Should I Do?

Low-impact aerobic activities do not put stress on the joints and include brisk walking, cycling, swimming, water aerobics, light gardening, group exercise classes, and dancing.

For major health benefits, do at least:

  • 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, like cycling at less than 10 miles per hour, or
  • 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, like cycling at 10 mph or faster, each week. Another option is to do a combination of both. A rule of thumb is that 1 minute of vigorous-intensity activity is about the same as 2 minutes of moderate-intensity activity.

In addition to aerobic activity, you should also do muscle-strengthening activities that involve all major muscle groups two or more days a week.

Muscle-strengthening exercises include lifting weights, working with resistance bands, and yoga. These can be done at home, in an exercise class, or at a fitness center.

Flexibility exercises like stretching and yoga are also important for people with arthritis. Many people with arthritis have joint stiffness that makes daily tasks difficult. Doing daily flexibility exercises helps maintain range of motion so you can keep doing everyday things like household tasks, hobbies, and visiting with friends and family.

Balance exercises like walking backwards, standing on one foot, and tai chi are important for those who are at a risk of falling or have trouble walking. Balance exercises are included in many group exercise classes.

Group of women exercising in the park
How Hard Are You Working?

Measure the relative intensity of your activity with the talk test. In general, if you’re doing moderate activity you can talk, but not sing, during the activity. If you are doing vigorous activity, you will not be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath. Learn more about measuring physical activity intensity.