Is it possible to get a good workout using only bodyweight exercises as opposed to going to the gym and lifting weights? I have rheumatoid arthritis and sometimes it’s hard enough to move and grip things, let alone lift weights.
You can most definitely get a comprehensive workout without lifting a single weight. Of course, as a strong advocate of the benefits of weight lifting I believe there are things you can accomplish with a weight-based workout that you cannot with a bodyweight one. Nevertheless, for the person looking to get into shape and not become a bodybuilder the differences are negligible.
Take a look at gymnasts. They often have fantastic musculature and conditioning to go along with their strength and flexibility, and all of their training is bodyweight-only. Of course you probably don’t have access to the specialized equipment, like rings and uneven bars, that they have. Still, with a minimum of home equipment you can get in a great full body workout.
I would suggest you get yourself a chinning bar, and even the newer, more advanced one with the straps attached that allow you to do modified ring movements. A company called GoFit has one that looks quite good. Also, a pair of pushup bars or the newer Perfect Pushup handles can help you get the most out of your pushups. Between the chins and pushups you have most of your upper body covered.
Add to this walking lunges and one-legged squats for your thighs, standing one-legged toe raises on a step for calves, and hanging or lying leg raises and crunches for abdominals and you have a full workout that doesn’t have you lifting a single weight.