Exercise is one of the best things you can do to help keep your muscles strong and reduce joint pain and stiffness. And it can help you reach and stay at a healthy weight.
But you want to make sure that you don't hurt your joints when you exercise. Before you get started, ask your doctor or another health professional, such as physical therapist or qualified exercise professional, what kind of activity would be good for you.
These tips can help you exercise safely:
Pace yourself, especially if you haven't exercised for a while. Start slowly, and don't push yourself too hard. Then work your way up to where you can exercise for a longer time and then with more effort.
Manage pain. If your joint pain gets worse after exercise, you may want to use ice on the joints that hurt or take an over-the-counter pain medicine, such as acetaminophen (for example, Tylenol) or a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as ibuprofen (for example, Advil or Motrin) or naproxen (for example, Aleve). Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
Rest your joints if they are swollen. For example, if your knees are swollen, don't use the stairs for a few days. Walk a shorter distance, and switch to swimming or riding an indoor bike.
Know when you have sore muscles and not joint pain. If your muscles are sore, you can safely exercise through the soreness. (You could exercise through joint pain too, but it's not safe to do so.)
If you have joint pain that lasts for more than a day after you exercise, you need to:
Rest the joint until your pain gets back to the level that is normal for you.
Exercise for less time or with less effort.
Try another exercise that doesn't cause pain.
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If you have questions about physical activity or exercise, call 8-1-1 (or 7-1-1 for the deaf and heard of hearing) toll-free in B.C. Our qualified exercise professionals are available Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm Pacific Time. You can also leave a message after hours.
Translation services are available in more than 130 languages.
HealthLinkBC’s qualified exercise professionals can also answer your questions by email.
If you have any questions about healthy eating, food, or nutrition, call 8-1-1 (or 7-1-1 for the deaf and hard of hearing) toll-free in B.C. You can speak to a health service navigator who can connect you with one of our registered dietitians, who are available 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday. You can also leave a message after hours.
Translations services are available in more than 130 languages.
HealthLinkBC Dietitians can also answer your questions by email.