Pilates and arthritis: Can exercise really help?

Between dealing with a diagnosis, understanding new routines, and getting to grips with a different way of life, living with a chronic condition that affects your movement can be daunting. But, this shouldn’t mean you have to stop exercising. 

In fact, our resident pilates expert Rachel Lawrence wants to reframe how you think about exercise and realise the power of thoughtful movement for better holistic health, particularly when it comes to pilates! 

In this short video, Rachel answers some quick-fire questions about why pilates can be better than other forms of exercise if you are living with arthritis: 

What’s the science behind it? 

According to the NHS, ‘regular pilates practice can help improve posture, muscle tone, balance and joint mobility, as well as relieve stress and tension.’ What’s more, the slow, controlled exercise - which can be done sitting or standing - allows you to move your body safely. 

It’s proven that low-intensity exercise works wonders for people with arthritis as it protects them against further injury through increased muscle control, which not only protects joints but also increases self-awareness. 

This type of exercise class doesn’t just make you stronger, it also lengthens and stretches your body which can work to relieve pains and stresses too. 

The low-impact, fully-body nature of the exercise also means that you are working to gain more control of your entire body at any given time. This is often in contrast to the pain-specific approach many patients take when trying to solve problem areas. 

By approaching your core strength in the same way you master your hip flexors, the different areas of your body can work together to make everyday life a little easier. 

Here are four online classes you can take for free if you want to try pilates for arthritis:

Gentle Mobility and Flexibility to Soothe the Body: Join Rachel for some gentle mobilisation and warm-up exercises ideal for easing the aches and pains of early-stage arthritis as well as strengthen the body without stressing the joints.

A 15 Minute Pilates Class for Rheumatoid Arthritis: Here, Rachel focuses on pain relief and joint stiffness to help those living with arthritis.

Pilates for Chronic Pain Relief: In this short session, Rachel shares her top tips for executing pilates to relieve pain and strengthen your joints. She also focuses on mental well-being and breathing throughout the session. 

Standing Pilates for Arthritis: In this tutorial, Rachel explores how to master pilates standing up. This class is ideal to do first thing in the morning when you're feeling a little stiff and achy as well as a great warm-up for your regular exercise. 

Information contained in this Articles page has been written by talkhealth based on available medical evidence. The content however should never be considered a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek medical advice before changing your treatment routine. talkhealth does not endorse any specific products, brands or treatments.

Information written by the talkhealth team

Last revised: 31 March 2023
Next review: 31 March 2026