Exercise and osteoarthritis


Osteoarthritis is a condition that causes degeneration of the cartilage and bone in synovial joints. It most often occurs in load-bearing joints such as knees, hips, back, ankle and fingers1. Osteoarthritis is common in people aged between 45 to 90 years old and is more prevalent in women than men1. 

Osteoarthritis can cause inflammation of the tissue surrounding the joint, damage to the cartilage, bone spurs that grow around the joint and also cause deterioration of ligaments and tendons1. 

Symptoms of osteoarthritis can vary with each individual, however common symptoms can include pain within the joint and surrounding areas, joint stiffness and reduced range of motion and possibly swelling around the joint. 


Research into osteoarthritis has identified certain risk factors that can increase the risk of developing this condition. These risk factors are listed below1:

  • Overweight

  • Previous injuries

  • Family history

  • Age

  • Muscle strength and joint alignment


Current treatment for osteoarthritis includes a combination of exercise, education, medications such as anti-inflammatories, possibly joint protection such as braces and healthy weight management. 

Exercise is a very important part that should be incorporated in everyone’s treatment of osteoarthritis. Read below why!


  • Exercise can help to control symptoms and help to maintain or improve function and physical capacity (2)

  • Resistance (or strength) exercise can improve muscle strength and has shown to reduce pain, increase function and improve walking time (2)

  • Cardiovascular (or aerobic) exercise can improve our physical fitness and assist with weight reductions and management (2)

  • Aquatic exercise such as hydrotherapy, is useful in the initial phase of exercise treatment as it minimises the load placed on joints (2)

  • Flexibility can increase joint mobility and help to reduce joint stiffness (2)

  • Improve Quality of Life, well-being and confidence


It is currently recommended that individual’s with Osteoarthritis engage in both resistance (strength) and cardiovascular (aerobic) training to ensure improvements in muscle strength, pain and promote healthy weight management. Resistance exercise should be performed 2 to 3 days per week, with the aim to improve muscle strength and function in the surrounding muscles of the joint. Cardiovascular exercise should be performed for at least 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week, or add to a total of 150-300 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise. 

Exercise treatment should be ongoing and should be supervised by a healthcare professional such as an Exercise Physiologist or a Physiotherapist. Exercise Physiologist’s and Physiotherapist’s will help you to work towards achieving your goals and ensure your safety when performing exercises. 

Book in with one of our Exercise Physiologist’s or Physiotherapist’s at Aevum to learn more about osteoarthritis and how exercise treatment can help you achieve your goals with this condition. Our entire team is full of knowledge and ready to share it all with you!

Call and book an appointment with the Aevum Team to learn more – 02 8544 3231