5 Water Exercises for Rheumatoid Arthritis

5 Water Exercises for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Exercises for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Water exercises for Rheumatoid Arthritis have tremendous benefits of which I learned first hand from Kendra Jones.  I first met Kendra at a convention hosted by the Aquatic Therapy & Rehab Institute. In a single conversation, it was easy to spot her kind and caring personality. I learned that Kendra’s interest in water exercise stemmed from her own diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis commonly referred to as Jr. RA.  Today she shares with WEOACH followers some of her favorite water exercises for Rheumatoid Arthritis!

Kendra’s Story

Since childhood, I have been living with rheumatoid arthritis. Painful joints and side effects from medications can cause unwanted weight gain. In high school and college, I thought high-impact, fast-paced exercise was the only way to lose weight and stay in shape. Fortunately, I was wrong.

After college, I decided to give water aerobics a try at the local city pool, and I was hooked! Fourteen years and two hip replacements later, I truly believe water exercise is what keeps my joints moving. Motion is lotion and water is the lubricant!

If you have rheumatoid arthritis or any chronic pain or illness for that matter, do yourself a favor and get in the pool. Your body will thank you. Not only are you working your muscles, but you are also working on balance, flexibility and heart health. Just by having to stabilize against the turbulent flow of water, you strengthen your abdominal muscles – another plus!

My Top 5 Favorite Water Exercises for Rheumatoid Arthritis

I like to warm up in the deep end, where I can move freely with no impact (and my feet won’t scrape the ground).

Deep Water Noodle Exercises:

  1. Bicycling:  Straddle a pool noodle like a horse.  With shoulders over your hips, move your legs in a bicycle motion, while using breaststroke arms circling just below the surface. After 2-4 laps (depending on how you feel), reverse the motion.  Bicycle backward. With wide arms stretched out to the sides, scoop the water toward the front to propel yourself back.Bicycle Water Exercises for Rheumatoid Arthritis
  2. Cross Country Ski:  Still straddling the noodle, use straight arms and legs moving in opposition to propel forward. With each movement, stretch a little further to use a full range of motion.  Try 2-4 laps.Ski Water Exercise

To work on strengthening my hips, I move to the shallow end (water at chest level) for leg toning exercises. I perform these exercises with a noodle for added resistance, but they can be done without one. Start with one leg, and then switch legs after completing all the exercises.

Shallow Water Noodle Exercises

  1. Front Leg Cycle:  Stand at the side of the pool at chest level, holding the pool wall for support. Step onto the center of the noodle with your outside leg. Staying stationary, take a large step forward with the outside foot (like a horse pawing at the ground), pushing the noodle down and then pulling it back to you along the bottom of the pool. Repeat 10 times.  Repeat 10 times.Front Leg Cycle
  2. Side Leg Lift:  Stand at the side of the pool at chest level, holding the pool wall for support. Step onto the center of the noodle with your outside leg.  With a straight leg (soft bend in the knee), lift your leg to the side in a controlled movement, up and down.  Be cautious not to overextend, your leg should not come higher than your hips. Repeat 10 times.Side Leg Lift
  3. Leg Curls:  Turn to face the wall. If you are using a noodle, place it in front of the ankle. Lift the heel toward the buttocks, and then return it to the standing position. Repeat 10 times.Leg Curl

Exercise Tips from Kendra

Living with rheumatoid arthritis, you need to pay important attention to your body. Always move in a range that feels good, and if it hurts, make the move smaller, try it without equipment or move on to the next exercise. Increase or decrease the number of repetitions and exercises to accommodate how you feel during that workout on that day. Most of all have fun! Once you start, you’ll be excited to learn more exercises to keep you mobile and feeling great!

WECOACH has several exercise DVDs that can help with arthritis.  Browse our selection of DVDs today, and receive $10 off ANY single DVD during the month of May.  Promo code:  MYFAVE

Also, receive $40 off the DVD 4 pack during the month of May. Promo code: ANNIVERSARY

WECOACH is dedicated to helping you move and feel better!  Join the movement!



Kendra Jones is a certified special education teacher and water exercise instructor who is passionate about sharing resources with others battling chronic pain. She shares information on her blog: LivingWithJrRa in her quest to help others see, “Life may not be what you expected, but there is still ‘living’ to do.”


  1. Cross country ski and bicycle are two of my favorite aquatic exercises. The noodle has completely changed Aqua exercise!

  2. Kenda, Thank you for sharing your excercises and your philosophy. They are helpful and inspirational in helping people feel better.