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Deresinski now walks or rides her bike instead of running. She still lifts weights, but they're much lighter than they were before she was diagnosed. "I started to do activity that was a little lower in impact but still allowed me to participate in exercise programs," she says. "You want to work gradually. You want to know what your body can handle, what it can't handle, what you need to modify, what you need to strengthen."

Before you do any type of OA exercise, check with your doctor to make sure exercise is safe for you. To ensure you're using the right form, check into programs that were designed specifically for people with osteoarthritis. You can usually find them at your local Y or community center. The Arthritis Foundation offers aquatics, tai chi, and other programs around the country.

Physical Therapy & OA Exercise

Also consider seeing a physical therapist to help you get started on a safe exercise program. "A physical therapist will know what exercises you should or shouldn't do," Millar says. Once you know how to do the exercises correctly, you’ll feel more comfortable doing them at home on your own.

If you wake up feeling stiff or sore some mornings, ice those achy joints and take the pain reliever your doctor recommended. Ease back on the exercise on those days, but don't avoid it entirely. "You have to listen to your body and on some days back off, but you don't want to stop completely," according to Millar.

"Keeping moving is what maintains your strength, your mobility, and your health. And all those things are truly important," Borenstein says.