Physical Activity

Top 10 Arthritis Exercises

A person holding their arms in the air

Top 10 Arthritis Exercises You Can Do Almost Anywhere

All exercises should be performed 20 times or as tolerated.

1. Ankle circles

Ankle circles

Sit upright in chair with feet stretched out in front. Rotate feet in one direction. Repeat in opposite direction.

2. Heel/toe lift

Heel/toe lift

Sit forward on a chair with feet flat. Lift heels, keeping toes on the floor, then lift toes. Hold for three seconds then return to flat.

3. Knee raises

Knee raises

Sit on the edge of a chair or stool with your back straight. Lift your knee as high as you can without bending your back. You can help get your knee higher with your hands if necessary. Keeping your abdominals tight, slowly lower your leg back to the starting position. Anyone who has just had total hip replacement should wait three months before attempting this exercise.

4. Leg lift with ankle movements

Leg lift with ankle movements

Sit upright with back supported. Slowly straighten your knee. With the knee slightly bent, bend the ankle, pointing your toes straight ahead. Then reverse to point your toes toward the ceiling, repeat.

5. Shoulder stretches

Shoulder stretches

Sit or stand with forearms pressed together in front of the body. Then, bring your elbows back to the “hands up” position, with palms facing forward. Finally, stretch arms overhead as far as possible, keeping your elbows in line with the side of your body.

6. Forward arm reaches

Forward arm reaches

Sit or stand with arms at your side, elbows bent and thumbs pointed back toward your shoulders. Stretch arms overhead. If one of your arms is weak, you can help it by placing your hand under the elbow and assisting the arm to the overhead position. Finally, lower arms slowly to the start position.

7. Shoulder squeeze and wrist stretch

Shoulder squeeze and wrist stretch
Put palms and fingers together. Hold arms stretched out together in front. Pull hands in toward your chest, making your elbows bend to each side. Press palms together as you move them closer to your body and squeeze shoulder blades together.

8. Finger walk and thumb circles

Finger walk and thumb circles

Sit with hands on table, fingers pointing ahead. Slide thumbs toward each other. Then slide each finger one at a time toward the thumb. After the little finger has completed the “walk”, lift your hands and put them down straight. Then, move your fingers toward the thumb. Then rotate your thumbs.

9. Hip and calf stretch

Hip and calf stretch

Stand with arm support against a wall. Place one foot in front of the other and keep your feet apart (shoulder-width) and pointing forward. Keep your shoulder, hip, knee and ankle in a straight line. Keep shoulder and hips square and tighten abdominal muscles. Move forward, bending only at the ankles and keeping weight on the heel of the back foot.

10. Walking


Take a walk every day. Walking allows you to stretch your back and leg muscles, and joints that can become stiff from sitting.


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