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Can an older person with osteoarthritic knee pain exercise?

Dr. Robin Miller, MD
Internal Medicine
Older individuals with osteoarthritis can exercise but the form and program should be tailored to the individual. 
Rick Olderman
Physical Therapy
Yes, in fact many studies suggest that exercise (both strength training and cardio) is a great way to reduce knee pain associated with osteoarthritis. The best program is the one you will actually follow so create an exercise program you can easily adopt and make into a habit. Forming a habit is crucial for long-term benefits of exercise. I’m generally not a fan of “no pain, no gain”. An exercise program should be somewhat challenging and cause little to no pain. It always helps to choose exercises you enjoy or at least intersperse exercises you enjoy. It’s best to create a safe foundational program you know will not cause pain but can still deliver results. You can always make the exercise program more aggressive later.
Pao-Feng Tsai
Geriatrics Nursing

The elder should start with only about 20-30 minutes of low intensity exercise per day, 2-3 days a week. The elder may experience more knee pain, swelling, fatigue and weakness after exercise initially, due to the stress of exercise. However, exercise should provide better quality of life in the long run, including relief of mental stress, pain and disability. Taking analgesics before exercise may help reduce pain caused by exercise. Taking time to rest during exercise may be necessary. An average of 2-3 months may be needed for sedentary elders to adapt to the stress of exercise.


Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
An older person with osteoarthritis knee pain can and should exercise. In fact, your body ages and your knee arthritis gets worse when you stop exercising the muscles around your knee. A study in the June 2014 issue of Arthritis Care and Research found that getting 6,000 steps (or 60 minutes of exercise five or more days a week) actually helps prevent the worsening of arthris. 
Dr. Kevin J. Soden, MD
Family Medicine
Absolutely, it's even more important to exercise as we age because exercise will help build up the support muscles in our lower body which will reduce our risk of falling. Also, exercise will help our cardiovascular fitness which is key as we get older.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.