Updated July 12, 2021

Stiff joints, noisy joints, and decreasing flexibility may seem like normal, even expected parts of aging; however, physical activity like walking, yoga, and weight-bearing exercises can help improve the strength and flexibility of your joints.

In fact, activities as simple as brisk walking can improve your joint function and relieve minor pain. Learn more about the connection between exercise and joint health.

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What is a Joint?

Simply put, a joint is the connection between two bones.

Joints are supported by muscles and tendons and cushioned by cartilage and synovial fluid. Keeping your joints healthy means keeping your support muscles strong. Strong support muscles help push fluid through the joint, which keeps cartilage healthy and nourished.

Exercise and Joint Health

Even if you already have some pain in your knees, hips, or shoulders, you can still benefit from beginning an exercise regimen. In fact, exercise is one of the best ways to manage osteoarthritis and reduce pain. And studies show that exercise can help maintain or attain a healthy weight, which is crucial for joint health.

You should consult your primary care provider to see if you are healthy enough to exercise; but in general, a good mix of the following exercises can be beneficial for your joints.

Muscle Strengthening

Strengthening exercises build the muscle around your joints, adding support to ease the burden on those joints and reduce discomfort. To get started, try lifting weights, using resistance bands, or attending a group strength-training class.

Cardiovascular Exercise

Cardio exercises are important to your overall health and wellness. They help improve stamina and energy levels, as well as reduce excess weight.

You can get a good cardio workout from a variety of activities, such as walking, dancing, hiking, shooting basketball, playing tennis or pickleball, or swimming. Start at a slower pace and continue to increase the duration and intensity of your cardio workout as you improve over time. Choose an activity that’s enjoyable to keep yourself interested in training.

Balance and Flexibility

Balance exercises can help prevent falls, and flexibility exercises can reduce stiffness. Yoga, Tai Chi, stretching, standing on one foot, walking backwards, or heel and toe walking all can help you develop increased flexibility and balance.

To schedule an appointment with one of our orthopaedic experts or to learn more about improving your joint health, call 1-866-987-6784 or submit a form online.

About UPMC Orthopaedic Care

As a national leader in advanced orthopaedic care, UPMC treats a full range of musculoskeletal disorders, from the acute and chronic to the common and complex. Whether you have bone, muscle, or joint pain, we provide access to UPMC’s vast network of support services for both surgical and nonsurgical treatments and a full continuum of care. As leaders in research and clinical trials with cutting-edge tools and techniques, UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside appears on U.S. News & World Report’s rankings of the top hospitals in the country for orthopaedics.