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These are the exercises most people dread. Aerobic or endurance exercises work to strengthen the heart and lungs and we often associate these with running and high impact workouts. Naturally, not too many people living with osteoarthritis of the knees are going to be doing much marathon running or cardio circuits in the gym, but still, they need to make sure that their blood is pumping and their lungs are functioning well, to fight off the symptoms of the condition.

If you have symptoms of arthritis, aerobic exercise is important for many reasons. Firstly, conditioning gives you the benefit of reducing fatigue, which means more stamina during the day. Aerobic exercise also reduces the likelihood of weight gain that can further exasperate the symptoms of painful and swollen knees. It also releases endorphins and other hormones, which make you feel better throughout the day, and also help you sleep better at night. For many people who experience osteoarthritis knee pain at night, a good night’s sleep can make all the difference for the next day. Relying on sleep medications to get this sleep suppresses the body’s ability to move naturally in your sleep and this can further irritate the condition.

Aqua aerobics

Depending on how severe your osteoarthritis of the knees is, there are several exercises you can do which are motion enhancing, aerobic and strengthening. The classic favourite, which can be enjoyed by all, is aqua aerobics. In these classes, an instructor stands on the side of the pool and leads a class, usually to music. Participants are submerged up to their chests in water and are asked to copy the instructor’s movements.

The effect of being in the water while exercising is highly beneficial to anyone living with painful or swollen joints. As the water is able to take a portion of the weight of your body, the demand on joints is reduced. This allows you to move in ways, which would normally be too painful. This buoyancy also allows you to straighten out joints, not just your knees, but your hips and lower back too, which has a knock-on positive effect on your knee joints. Call your local swim centre to ask if they have classes designed for people with arthritis or limited mobility.


Walking is also a very good all over conditioning exercise. It improves circulation, fights off heart disease, lowers blood pressure and strengthens the heart and lungs. In cases of osteoarthritis knee pain, walking obviously impacts the range of motion and flexibility of the affected joint. It also includes an element of endurance, as walkers can slowly increase the lengths of their walks as they become fitter. The important thing to remember with walking and osteoarthritis of the knee or any medical condition is to always walk with someone or to let someone know where you’re going and when you will be back. If you have weakness associated with your condition, consider using a medical support or brace until your stability returns.

Plan your route and know where you might be able to stop to take a break. It is also a good idea to pay attention to the weather forecast, to avoid overly cold days and to make sure you are suitably dressed. By wearing layered clothing you can easily remove an item if you become too warm and replace it as you cool down, as it’s important not to let working muscles become too cold.

If both walking and getting in the swimming pool still seem like a leap too far, there are plenty of exercise routines you can do from your own sitting chair. Regularly rolling your ankles, moving your knees, clenching your buttocks and stretching all help with motion and strength, if done often enough.

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