Benefits & Research



Tips on exercise from people with arthritis

“Use it or lose it”


I’ve had the arthritis symptoms for 10 years. I’m not hugely affected by arthritis mainly hands and fingers - it is hard to make a fist. Knees is the other one. I have a titanium hip put in a few years ago.

I like exercising in the pool because…
It is relatively low impact. I like to walk but I have been advised not to jog and run. The pool is nice and warm very comfortable.

Doing the sit squats and things it is not an option outside of the pool. With the resistance of the water you can push as hard as you like and I felt it was good and it benefited my knee. I should have twigged earlier when I had my hip replacement as a lot of the rehab was in the pool and when that finished stopped exercises in water..

In the future…

I want to keep as active and able to do the things that I want to do for as long as I can . I’m 68 and I wonder how long I will be able to do the things that I enjoy. I’m still walking out in nature and riding motorbikes.

Paul’s Tips:
1.   Use it or lose it. You need to keep yourself moving and work on endurance

2.   Exercising indoors in a heated pool negates the weather issue as you can do it any time.

"I'm getting stronger"


I’ve got arthritis and osteoporosis. With the tablets and injection things seemed to improve but I know that that is a limited option. And I don’t want that to get worse. I don’t want to break a bone. But (now) I’m getting stronger and improving the cardio side of my fitness.

I like exercising in the pool because…

It is low impact. It doesn’t hurt as much and even afterwards I pull up pretty good. There is soreness but nothing excruciating after doing the exercises in the water.

I find doing the exercises in the water easier…and low impact.  I wouldn’t be able to exercise for the length of time and jump as high on land compared to (what I can do in) the water.

In the future…

Hopefully my arthritis will stay pretty much as it is. I will continue to do my exercises in the pool and play golf and walk and cycle when I can.

Sue’s Tips:

1.   Doing the pool exercises 2x week is better for my body

2.   Some people are determined and can do the hydro exercises on their own but I know sometimes other people are motivated when exercising with someone else so they don’t let someone down.

“I can achieve more in the pool than I can on land”


I’ve had an auto-immune disease since I was in my late 20s and now I am 66 years old.
I’ve had intermittent flares with pain connected to this. My knee pain has become worse in the past 10 years.

I tended to avoid some things completely if I thought they were causing me pain. (Now after doing the aquatic program, I know) it is ok to have some pain with exercise.

I like exercising in the pool because…

I can achieve more in the pool than I can on land, I can exercise for longer and I’m not as sore I would be in the gym. In the water I can work harder without pain - the water gives me resistance. I feel more confident in the water.

In the future…
I will keep going to the pool for sure. My aim is 3 times a week and I’m wanting to get to the point where I’m managing my pain. I know it possibly could get worse but I hope it won’t. A flare is a flare and it will get better. You can get a little bit of extra treatment, go to the physio because that’s what happened with my knee. I was really panicking and he helped me a lot. And now being back to do some (pool exercise)I feel more confident that I wont need surgery for quite some time now.

Mary’s Tips:

1.   It’s important to do this (aquatic exercise) to help keep up your balance and build those muscles up that help your knee strong.

2.  I realise I need to do 3x sessions per week in the pool to help my arthritis.

3.   A group setting is the best because you make the commitment to exercise.

Frequently Asked Questions

When does your next program start?

Our next arthritis program starts at the end of February for people who work, live or exercise in the City of Melbourne. Please get in touch if you'd like more info.

Where can I find more information on arthritis, exercise or pain?

There are some great organisations producing some excellent material on arthritis, exercise and managing pain. Here are some of them

General information on osteoarthritis

Or give Musculoskeletal Australia a freecall and (weekdays 9am-5pm) and speak to one of their clinically trained nurses and

experienced volunteers for

- Information on arthritis

- Information on how to negotiate the complex health, disability and social services systems

- community resources in your area.

1800 263 265 or

Information on managing pain and symptoms

Managing your pain A-Z guide

Information on exercise with osteoarthritis

Information on recommended guidelines for physical activity to stay healthy

Australia's Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines

Living Stronger from COTA - exercise classes and online exercise videos

GLA:D AU exercise classes for hip and knee arthritis

Can exercise cause damage to my joint if I already have knee arthritis?

Exercise programs designed by Health Professionals have controlled load which starts lower and gradually gets higher. Provided trauma is avoided (uncontrolled twisting or anything extreme), moderate exercise does not lead to acceleration of knee osteoarthritis. Exercise really helps people with arthritis get stronger, get moving and have less pain. Aquatic exercise has the added benefit of less vertical weight bearing load on the joint but can still push you hard with strengthening and also cardiovascular conditioning for your general health. Contact us to find out more. You can read more about the benefits of exercise and physical activity from Arthritis Australia here.

Do I need to be able to swim?

Quite a few people in enjoy exercise in water and cannot swim. The pools we use usually have a shallow end where most exercises are done standing up.  All the exercises are initially easier and then progressed to be more difficult as your confidence in water grows. All exercises can be modified for someone that cannot swim.  With time, most people become much more confident in water and enjoy the sessions and this opens up a whole new option for exercise for rehabilitation and exercise for fitness.

Does aquatic exercise work?

Yes. High quality clinical research in hip and knee osteoarthritis has shown aquatic exercise supervised and designed by a physiotherapist to be beneficial for pain, quality of life, walking and stair climbing. We have done more research recently to show how some exercises in the pool are less painful for people with knee arthritis.

What is aquatic physiotherapy?

Aquatic physiotherapy uses the skills and knowledge of the physiotherapist related to rehabilitation, health, muscles, bones, walking, posture and exercise. It also involves individual assessment and goal setting.Aquatic Physiotherapists have extra training and knowledge in exercising in water related to the physiology of being immersed and the physics of forces and load in water. Our programs are designed by aquatic physiotherapists. Hydrotherapy is another term that is used and this also describes exercises for movement and rehabilitation. You can read more about aquatic physiotherapy and the benefits here or see our articles on benefits and research.