Mature Woman Exercising
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Exercise Can Keep Joints Strong

Exercise helps keep joints flexible and strong. It can also help you lose weight, which takes pressure off aching joints. Every pound you lose takes 4 pounds of pressure off your knees and 6 pounds off your hips. If you have any joint issues, ask your doctor before you start a new exercise program so you know what you can do safely.

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Women Exercising Together
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Warming Up Is Critical

Warming up with gentle movements helps get your body ready for a workout. Simple exercises such as side bends, shoulder shrugs, arm circles, overhead stretches, and bending toward your toes are all good warm-up moves. Repeat each one three to five times. Remember, exercise shouldn't cause pain -- ease into your activity. Save the stretch-and-hold movements for after your warm-up or workout.

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Older Woman Swimming
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Take the Plunge

Getting active strengthens the muscles that support your joints. Aerobic exercise (or cardio) helps your most important muscle: your heart. Because you'll be exercising several times a week, start thinking about what activities appeal to you, whether they're swimming, tennis, basketball, or something else you enjoy.

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Working Out With Hand Weights
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Get Stronger

Strengthening exercises such as weight training help you build the muscles that support your joints. You can use hand weights, resistance bands, or even a 1-liter water bottle. Start with weights that you can lift 12 to 15 times without slouching or poor form. Talk to a certified personal trainer to help design the best strengthening program for you.

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Woman Runner Stretching
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Lat Stretch

Stand with your back straight and feet shoulder-width apart. With your arms overhead, hold one hand with the other. Pull upward while you lean straight over toward your left side. Keep your lower body straight. You should feel the pull along your right side. Hold 15 to 30 seconds. Do this two to four times on each side. 

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Group of Women Stretching on Beach
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Tricep Stretch

Stand with your back straight and your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your left arm and bring your elbow straight up so that it points to the ceiling. Hold your elbow with your right hand. Pull your elbow gently toward your head. You're stretching the back of your bent arm. Hold 15 to 30 seconds. Then switch elbows. Repeat two to four times on each arm.

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man stretching against tree
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Calf Stretch

Place your hands on a wall, the back of a chair, a countertop, or a tree. Now step back with your right leg. Keep it straight, and press your right heel toward the floor. Push your hips forward and bend your left leg slightly. You should feel the stretch in your right calf. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat two to four times for each leg.

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Quadriceps Stretch
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Quadriceps Stretch

You'll feel this stretch along the front of your thigh. First, stand on your left foot. (You can hold onto something for balance.) Bend your right knee, raising your ankle to your right hand. Grab hold of your ankle, pulling your foot toward your butt to deepen the stretch. Keep your knees close together. Hold 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat 2 to 4 times for each leg.

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Groin Stretch
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Groin Stretch

Stretch your groin, or inner thigh muscles, by sitting on the floor with the soles of your feet pressed together. Grab your ankles and gently pull your legs toward you. Go only as far as is comfortable. Use your elbows to press your knees toward the floor. You should feel the stretch in your inner thighs. Hold your groin stretch for 15 to 30 seconds, and repeat it two to four times.

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Hamstring Stretch
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Hamstring Stretch

Your hamstring muscles run down the back of your thigh. Stretch them by sitting up straight in a chair with one foot on the floor. Slowly raise the other leg while you keep your knee straight. Support your leg with both of your hands. Hold this for 15 to 30 seconds, and repeat two to four times on each leg.

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Woman With Heat Pack On Knee
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Listen to Your Body

Exercise should challenge you, but it shouldn't cause pain. If you have some mild muscle soreness after you start a new exercise, that's normal. But if it lasts more than a couple of days, ease up on your workout to give your body more time to get used to the new routine. If you have any lasting pain, see your doctor.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 12/08/2019 Reviewed by Tyler Wheeler, MD on December 08, 2019

1) Blue Jean Images
2) Stockbyte
3) Steve Mason/Photodisc
4) Jose Luis Pelaez Inc./Blend Images
5) Clarissa Leahy/Cultura
6) Erik Isakson/Blend Images
7) WaveBreakMedia Ltd / Thinkstock
8) Steve Pomberg/WebMD
9) Steve Pomberg/WebMD
10) Steve Pomberg/WebMD
11) Jupiter/Thinkstock


Arthritis Foundation: "Aquatic Exercise and Tai Chi Effective Therapy for Osteoarthritis," "OA Basics. Who is at Risk?" "Fitness Exercises and Videos/Stretching," "All About Osteoarthritis – Exercise."
Michael Parks, MD, assistant attending orthopedic surgeon, Hospital for Special Surgery, New York.
Kevin D. Plancher, MD, orthopaedic surgeon, New York.
Felson, D. Annals of Internal Medicine, 1992; vol 116: pp 535-539.
The Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center: "Yoga for People With Arthritis."

Reviewed by Tyler Wheeler, MD on December 08, 2019

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.