Lifting weights or resistance training offers numerous benefits to help manage arthritis pain. Exercise keeps muscles around affected joints strong, lubricates joints, decreases bone loss and helps control joint swelling and pain.

Weightlifting may sound intimidating, but it can be done with proper preparation and without extensive equipment by incorporating everyday items. 

Before you start

“Warming up and gentle stretching is an essential part of an exercise routine," says Eric Lieberman, MD, FACR, a rheumatologist at the Summit Medical Group in Berkeley Heights, N.J. “A warm-up period of walking or riding a stationary bike helps get muscles loose.”
After you’ve warmed up and stretched, try these weight-lifting exercises to get started:
Legs and biceps: Hold a 16-oz. soup can in each hand and stand with feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, palms facing forward. Bend knees (keep knees and feet pointed straight ahead) and squat by slowly lowering hips toward floor (stay within a pain-free zone). Pause at the bottom, slowly return to starting position. Now perform a biceps curl by bending elbows and bringing soup cans up toward shoulders and back down. Repeat combination 10 to15 times.
Back and triceps: Hold a 16-oz. soup can in each hand and stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Bend forward slightly at the waist, arms hanging down toward ground (keep abdominals tight). Bend elbows and bring them up toward the ceiling while you squeeze shoulder blades together, hold and then straighten arms, extending hands behind you. Return to starting position by bending elbows back. Repeat sequence 10 to 15 times.
Chest and calves: Stand facing a wall approximately 2 feet away and lean forward, placing hands on the wall at chest height. Keeping legs straight, bend elbows and lower upper body toward the wall into a push-up; pause, slowly straighten arms (do not lock elbows) and return to starting position. Now perform a calf raise by standing up on the balls of your feet; pause and then lower heels back down. Repeat push-up and calf raise sequence 10 to 15 times.