Exercise Basics for Kids with Arthritis

Regular physical activity will help your child feel – and move – better.

Physical activity is important for any kid, but exercise has unique benefits for kids with arthritis. With a little help from their doctors, coaches or physical therapists, kids with arthritis can safely exercise and play almost any sport they want without injuring their joints. 

How Exercise Helps Kids with Arthritis

Even though exercise plays a crucial role in arthritis treatment, a 2016 Pediatric Rheumatology Online Journal study showed that kids with arthritis don’t get as much physical activity as their peers. Another earlier study in the Journal of Rheumatology found that kids who were less physically active had more severe pain and more pain-related limitations in their activity. Staying active has many benefits, including:

  • Keeping joints flexible
  • Helping control pain
  • Helping maintain a healthy weight
  • Keeping bones strong
  • Helping muscles get strong to support joints
  • Improving mood, sleep and energy
  • Building confidence

If you’re worried about your child injuring his joints, the evidence shows it’s safe to exercise, especially if the child is working with a physical therapist, says Susan Klepper, PhD, PT, assistant professor of clinical physical therapy at Columbia University in New York City. 

“There are lots of studies that show that exercise training, whether it’s land or water-based, is safe,” says Klepper. “In other words, the number of joints that are swollen or painful don’t increase after exercise programs that generally run anywhere from one to three times a week, lasting six to 20 weeks long. These kids don’t report more pain, they don’t report increased morning stiffness or any other classic signs of disease.”

Types of Exercises to Try

Kids with arthritis need different kinds of exercise to improve their health and strength. The best activities will vary depending on the child’s age, how severe or well-controlled her arthritis is and what she likes to do. Exercise should include a mix of:

  • Stretching and flexibility
  • Strengthening
  • Aerobic and conditioning
  • Balance

To learn more about the best exercises for your child, click here. 

Stay in the Know. Live in the Yes.

Join the Live Yes! Arthritis Network. Tell us a little about yourself and you will receive emails packed with the latest information and resources to live your best life and connect with others.

I Want to Contribute
I Need Help
  • Donate


    Every gift to the Arthritis Foundation will help people with arthritis across the U.S. live their best life.

  • Volunteer


    Join us and become a Champion of Yes. There are many volunteer opportunities available.

  • Live Yes! INSIGHTS

    Live Yes! INSIGHTS

    Take part to be among those changing lives today and changing the future of arthritis.

  • Partner


    Proud Partners of the Arthritis Foundation make an annual commitment to directly support the Foundation’s mission.


Ways to Give

Every gift to the Arthritis Foundation will help people with arthritis across the U.S. live their best life. Whether it is supporting cutting-edge research, 24/7 access to one-on-one support, resources and tools for daily living, and more, your gift will be life-changing.

Make a Donation

Help millions of people live with less pain and fund groundbreaking research to discover a cure for this devastating disease. Please, make your urgently-needed donation to the Arthritis Foundation now!

Become a Member

Become an Arthritis Foundation member today for just $20. You'll receive a year's worth of Arthritis Today magazine, access to helpful tools, resources, and more.

Make a Honor or Memorial Gift

Honor a loved one with a meaningful donation to the Arthritis Foundation. We'll send a handwritten card to the honoree or their family notifying them of your thoughtful gift.

Gift Planning

I want information on ways to remember the AF in my will, trust or other financial planning vehicles.


Volunteer Opportunities

The Arthritis Foundation is focused on finding a cure and championing the fight against arthritis with life-changing information, advocacy, science and community. We can only achieve these goals with your help. Strong, outspoken and engaged volunteers will help us conquer arthritis. By getting involved, you become a leader in our organization and help make a difference in the lives of millions. Join us and become a Champion of Yes.

More About Volunteering


Give Just 10 Minutes.

Tell us what matters most to you. Change the future of arthritis.

By taking part in the Live Yes! INSIGHTS assessment, you’ll be among those changing lives today and changing the future of arthritis, for yourself and for 54 million others. And all it takes is just 10 minutes.

Your shared experiences will help:

- Lead to more effective treatments and outcomes
- Develop programs to meet the needs of you and your community
- Shape a powerful agenda that fights for you

Now is the time to make your voice count, for yourself and the entire arthritis community. 

Currently this program is for the adult arthritis community.  Since the needs of the juvenile arthritis (JA) community are unique, we are currently working with experts to develop a customized experience for JA families. 

How are you changing the future?

By sharing your experience, you’re showing decision-makers the realities of living with arthritis, paving the way for change. You’re helping break down barriers to care, inform research and create resources that make a difference in people’s lives, including your own.

Get Started


Meet Our Partners

As a partner, you will help the Arthritis Foundation provide life-changing resources, science, advocacy and community connections for people with arthritis, the nations leading cause of disability. Join us today and help lead the way as a Champion of Yes.


Our Trailblazers are committed partners ready to lead the way, take action and fight for everyday victories. They contribute $2,000,000 to $2,749,000


Our Visionary partners help us plan for a future that includes a cure for arthritis. These inspired and inventive champions have contributed $1,500,00 to $1,999,999.


Our Pioneers are always ready to explore and find new weapons in the fight against arthritis. They contribute $1,000,000 to $1,499,999.


Our Pacesetters ensure that we can chart the course for a cure for those who live with arthritis. They contribute $500,000 to $999,000.


Our Signature partners make their mark by helping us identify new and meaningful resources for people with arthritis. They contribute $250,000 to $499,999.


Our Supporting partners are active champions who provide encouragement and assistance to the arthritis community. They contribute $100,000 to $249,999.