SAA’s Helpful Hints: Community Wisdom – Keeping Active with Spondyloarthritis

By Spondylitis Association of America

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Helpful Hints is a recurring feature aimed at sharing our community’s knowledge and experiences. Exercise has many benefits for those with spondyloarthritis, but different activities work better for different people. In this installment, we asked our online community, “What exercise works best for you?” We share a sample of responses with our thanks. We hope you find them thought provoking! Have your own to share? Email them to us at!

Water aerobics!
~Ginga M.
Biking outdoors. I have a big gel seat for comfort, and I ice my back and knees when I get home.
Basic Tai Chi warmup when the knee cooperates.
I like walking, and practicing yoga.
The word exercise suggests something the world views that I can NOT do. Simple stretches and doing life-is what helps me.
Channel surfing. Swimming, pilates, gentle cycling, etc., as long as it is not weight-bearing, I’m generally okay.
My joints like flexibility and strength. 1- Stretching...any kind...many times a day. 2- Swimming, or plain old pool therapy...depends on how I feel. 3- Dead bug and bird many as I can do. 4- Deadlift...(just 10 reps 3x/wk)...iron doesn't lie.
I lift weights during the winter from November to May. Never max weight though, and always barbells due to wrist pain from AS. Lots of stretching around the weights though, every time.
Body Pump & Body Balance. The first for fun and strength the second to heal and stretch! Best time ever in 20 years! Used to have dance classes too (Salsa & Kizomba).
~Filipe P.
Gardening is great exercise for mind and body; it is also easy to adapt to your abilities!
~Tara S.
Heated pool! Warm water and pool noodles really help! Floating, stretching, and doing core exercises in the warm water really feel great!
~Bev. K.
Spinning and cycling give me a great cardiovascular workout and provide resistant weight exercise for my legs/hips. They’re my ‘prevent heart disease and osteoarthritis’ workouts. I have a 3 day/week early morning cycling schedule and never miss a class. I stay cognizant of spine alignment - for me that means hips back over the seat, not too much arch in my lower back and keeping my chest lifted. A sweat drenched workout builds confidence, provides a positive serotonin effect, and can almost always get me past a flare.
~Richard H.
Squats while I brush my teeth, calf stretches on a curb after a walk, yoga (if I can't make it to the studio I use an app,) alternate between sitting and standing at work, sit on a fitness ball at home, park farther away from entrances, get off public transport 1-2 stops early and walk the rest of the way, hiking. I don't do all every day though.
~Crystal S.

Learn more about the role of exercise in the treatment of spondyloarthritis at SAA’s Spondylitis Educational Seminar (or the online broadcast) on November 9th in Atlanta, GA! Carl Heldman, Doctor of Physical Therapy, will present “Spondyloarthritis: Biomechanical Changes, Treatment & Exercise,” and Rheumatologist James Rosenbaum, MD, will present “Spondyloarthritis Treatment & Research Update: The Role of the Microbiome.” Register to attend in person here: Don’t live in the Atlanta area but want to watch the seminar live? Register to watch our live stream here:


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