Exercise for your AS

Exercise matters - Take charge - Take action

Exercise is the single most important thing you can do to help yourself.

AS is a condition for life and during its course it may affect you differently at different times. The fitter and more flexible you are, the better able you will be to deal with the stiffness and pain.

It's not enough to rely on medication. You also have to exercise.

The benefits of exercise include:

  • Increased flexibility - the more flexible you are the easier it is to do everyday tasks such as putting on your socks or reaching something on a high shelf
  • Increased range of movement - the more mobility you have the easier it is to do things
  • Improved posture - better posture makes you feel better in yourself and reduces feelings of self consciousness
  • Improved sleep - exercise is physically tiring which improves sleep quality, ensuring you wake feeling refreshed
  • Reduction in stiffness and pain - exercise can result in less pain at night which again can result in improved sleep quality

The focus for exercise for people with AS is on improving or maintaining:

  • Range of movement in joints
  • Posture control
  • Muscle strength
  • Muscle length
  • Lung capacity
  • Balance
  • Cardiovascular fitness

Any exercise you decide to undertake needs to be regular, consistent and kept up over the long term.


These exercise pages give general advice but it's important to mke sure that you see a physiotherapist for an initial assessment and advice about the types of exercise suitable for you as an individual. If there's a particular sport that you enjoy then make sure you talk to your physiotherapist about it - don't assume you have to stop any sports without discussing it first. 

After your initial sessions you should be aiming to have further physiotherapy assessments once a year.

Safe ways to exercise

The following pages provide information on a whole range of different ways to exercise when you have AS. If you look through the pages you should find something which you think will suit you and your lifestyle.

Please read our safety guide before starting any new exercise regime.

Your experiences of exercise and AS

We would love to hear about your experiences of exercise and AS, both good, bad and indifferent. You can write as much or as little as you want in the box. We receive all the comments and publish them on the page, usually within 1 working day so your comment won't appear immediately.

If you would like to read other peoples experiences of how exercise benefited them please click here to read or download the Stene prize essays on the subject of "How exercise improves my life with a rheumatic disease" .

If you have any queries contact our Information Officer.

Last reviewed: September 2012