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The Absolute Worst Exercises for Arthritis, Expert Reveals

If you have arthritis, avoid these exercises at all costs.

Arthritis can be a completely debilitating condition. What happens when you have arthritis, is your joints become tender and swollen, resulting in stiffness and pain, according to Mayo Clinic. As you grow older, the pain typically gets even more intense. Knowing what to avoid is just as important as what's good for you. It's crucial to know how to manage your pain, but it's also key to be aware of the absolute worst exercises for arthritis. We chatted with an expert who reveals what to steer clear of.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports an astounding 24% of adults in the U.S. suffer from arthritis, which translates to 58.5 million people. This chronic condition is one of the biggest reasons for disability in the workforce. If you're among the 24%, let's get into the worst exercises for arthritis. Keep reading to learn exactly what you should avoid.

Running and jumping are some of the worst exercises for arthritis.

mature man running outdoors, demonstrating the exercise habits that slow aging

We spoke with Dr. Mike Bohl, the Director of Medical Content & Education at Ro and a certified personal trainer, who first tells us that arthritis can occur in various parts of your body, but a few of the most common joints that arthritis affects include the hips, knees, and spine. He reveals, "Some of the worst exercises to do if you have arthritis are high-impact activities, such as activities that require both feet to be off the ground at the same time." Dr. Bohl warns that jumping and running are perfect examples of what not to do.

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Deep lunges and squats can make your symptoms even worse.

senior woman, couple, performing deep lunge, worst exercises for arthritis

There are more exercises that can make your arthritis symptoms even more intense, including movements that place a good amount of pressure on your joints that are completely bent, including deep lunges or squats.

Stay away from high-speed exercises, like soccer and tennis.

senior couple playing tennis

"Exercises that involve high speed or putting a lot of torque on the joints from changing directions may exacerbate symptoms of arthritis," Dr. Bohl says. Some examples are playing soccer or tennis.

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Even though there are certain movements to steer clear of, exercise in general is good for arthritis.

mature man doing HIIT workout to slow aging on exercise bike

Although there are some specific activities and exercises to stay away from, Dr. Bohl advises, "Exercising—in general—is good for arthritis. Strengthening the muscles helps stabilize the joints and can improve arthritic pain." He recommends, "Low-impact aerobics, like walking and cycling, are a good way to stay active and strengthen the muscles. And resistance training can be beneficial as well—just start out with low repetitions and low weight, and work your way up as tolerated. It can also be appropriate to do higher repetitions if the weight stays low."

Alexa Mellardo
Alexa is the Mind + Body Deputy Editor of Eat This, Not That!, overseeing the M+B channel and delivering compelling fitness, wellness, and self-care topics to readers. Read more about Alexa
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