Arthritis Exercises

Performing physical activity and managing your weight can help the pain and stiffness caused by different forms of arthritis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is strong evidence that physical activity reduces pain, improves function and mood, and delays disability in adults with arthritis. The following ChairMaster exercise program is designed to help people with arthritis improve their health and well-being. Notice that both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities are recommended.

Aerobic Exercise

Seated pedaling  

  • Sit upright in the chair—using the backrest or the ChairMaster foam pad for support as needed.
  • Place the feet in the pedal straps and check to ensure that the knees are slightly bent at the “down” position of the pedal stroke.
  • Place the hands on the armrests or on the lap.
  • Start pedaling using smooth, continuous pedal strokes at a resistance that is tolerable.

Perform seated pedaling on the ChairMaster most days of the week, accumulating a total of 150 minutes (for example, 30 minutes of exercise, five days per week). If 30 minutes is too long in the beginning, perform at least 10-minute bouts and work up to 30 minutes.

Aerobic Exercise Summary:
Work up to 30 minutes of seated pedaling, 5 days per week. 


Muscle-strengthening Exercise

Movement-based exercise that enhances range of motion, strengthens the muscles, and improves balance should be performed two to three non-consecutive days per week. Perform at least one set of the following ChairMaster muscle-strengthening exercises for 10 to 15 repetitions. The number in parentheses matches the exercise number on the “ChairMaster Exercise Guide”.   DOWNLOAD PDF

  • Wrist rolls (37)
  • Gentle side bends (40)
  • Alternating leg lifts with cross-body crunch (13)
  • Shoulder press (2)
  • Squats (33)
  • Standing cross-body pull (diagonal) (26)
  • Lateral leg lifts with cuff (34)
  • Leaning side bend (50)
  • Downward dog with the chair (45)  
  • Pyramid pose (46)  

Muscle-Strengthening Summary:
Perform 1 circuit of 10-15 repitions for each exercise, 2-3 days per week. 



  • Some muscle soreness or aching in joints during and after exercise is normal for people with arthritis. Tips to help manage pain during and after exercise include:
  • Modify your exercise program by reducing the frequency (days per week) or duration (amount of time each session) until pain improves.
  • Wear properly fitting, comfortable shoes.
  • Signs you should see your health care provider:
  • Pain that lasts more than two hours after exercise or gets worse at night.
  • Pain that is not relieved by rest, medication, or hot/cold packs.
  • Large increases in swelling or your joints feel “hot” or are red.