We all know about the many benefits of regular exercise, but did you know that it can be especially helpful if you’re suffering from osteoarthritis? Not only will moderate exercise relieve pain and reduce stiffness, it can also improve your strength and flexibility, lift your mood and help you get a better night’s sleep.

You may be worried that exercise will make your symptoms worse, but a combination of the right strengthening and aerobic exercises will help. This is because building up muscle strengthens the joint, which in turn reduces symptoms. Losing weight can also help take pressure off your joints and improve your general health and wellbeing.

Other people with osteoarthritis have benefited from low impact exercises such as gentle stretching, walking, swimming and even dancing. You don’t need to leave the house if you don’t feel like it. Gardening is a great way to keep active and doing some housework, like 20-30 minutes of vacuuming, will get your heart rate up.

One of the hardest things can be getting started. It’s important to do something you like – this way you’ll be much more likely to keep it up regularly. Exercising with friends or a group can also help keep you motivated. You could try joining a walking group or exercise class at the gym. Try to work towards an achievable goal, too. This might just be as simple as adding a few extra minutes each time you go for a walk until you reach a set time.

It’s also a good idea to talk to your doctor before you start. They can help you put an exercise plan together that is safe and works for you. It is common to feel some discomfort when you start exercising, but if you feel pain in the joint itself, or if the pain doesn’t go away a couple of hours after you finish exercising, get in touch with your doctor for advice. It may be a sign that you’ve pushed yourself a little too hard and need to ease off a bit.