You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on BostonGlobe.com. Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

Health Answers

What exercise is best for people with knee arthritis?

Q. What kind of exercise is best for people with knee arthritis?

A. Knee osteoarthritis is a gradual wearing away of cartilage cushioning the joint, which causes the bones to rub together, leading to pain, swelling, and joint stiffness. Some people with arthritis tend to avoid exercise if they’re in pain, or out of fear of worsening the cartilage loss. But exercise is actually a key part of physical therapy for arthritis. “We do find that when people start to get active under supervision, they start to have less pain,” says Dennis Nutini, a sports medicine physician and medical director of Spaulding Outpatient Center in Brighton.

Continue reading below

Nutini says that it’s important to get an individualized exercise plan from a clinician, because knee arthritis is highly variable and recommendations depend on which part of the knee joint is affected, how severe the deterioration is, how much pain you feel, and your own personal exercise habits.

People with arthritis are often advised to avoid high-impact exercise such as running. Activities such as swimming, water aerobics, biking, or using an elliptical or ski machine can all give you a workout with less knee stress. But Nutini says that he avoids asking patients to limit exercise they enjoy if they tolerate it well without pain. Another approach is cross-training -- alternating between different activities over the course of a week or month to avoid a single one that could stress a joint. Physical therapists can also prescribe specific exercises for strength and flexibility that can help you manage arthritis.

Have a question? E-mail globeanswers@gmail.com.
Loading comments...
Want each day's news headlines delivered fresh to your
inbox every morning? Just connect with us
in one of the following ways:
or
Please enter a valid email
BostonGlobe.com will never post anything without asking.
Privacy Policy
Subscriber Log In

You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com