Exercise for Clients with Arthritis

"What Type Of Exercises/Programs Do You Use With Clients Who Have Arthritis?"

For my clients who have arthritis, I make sure I maintain an open line of communication throughout our sessions. I always ask if certain exercises are bothersome or painful, and I make adjustments if necessary. Even though I choose exercises that won’t irritate the joints, I still ask about comfort levels.

Continued learning is key: When I get a new client with arthritis, I research the best exercises for that person; which exercises to avoid (often twisting movements); times of day to exercise (mornings are better for many people, but whatever time of day the client is in the least amount of pain or discomfort is best); and the effects of arthritis medication on body composition and exercise tolerance.

With arthritic clients, I start their strength training on machines, to make sure their bodies have good support—especially if clients have back problems. As people get stronger, I incorporate more strength exercises away from the machines.

I also focus on low-impact exercise: no jumping, running, etc. Clients use recumbent bicycles (if they have back problems and a weak core), elliptical machines and stationary bikes; and they engage in water walking (we have a lazy river in our facility).

I encourage my clients to watch their diet and avoid inflammatory foods (e.g., sugar and refined and processed foods) to help manage their arthritis pain.

Sarah Jane Parker
Certified Personal Trainer
Gillette, Wyoming

We want to hear from you. What type of exercises/programs do you use with your clients who have arthritis? Please share in the comment section below.

To read more tips on working with clients who have arthritis, check out the original article from the September 2013 IDEA Fitness Journal here.

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1 Comment

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  • Meg Root

    I find that many clients and students have connected the dots when it comes to how movement can improve how they feel and function around their arthritis. They are willing and able to join in classes that offer a slower, more mindful approach to exercise including water walking, gentle yoga, and classes that offer supportive props like chairs, a ballet bar, straps and yoga blankets. I begin classes with gentle warm ups with the support of either lying on the floor or sitting in a chair, incorporating breathing and an opportunity to check in with how they are feeling on a particular day. Even is they still feel some stiffness at the end of class they often comment that the exercise helps them manage the chronic nature of their pain and discomfort. To me, that is the key as many of these conditions will not disappear, but can be managed successfully over the long term.
    Commented Oct 08, 2013