Exercise and RA
You may not be able to fully control the timing and severity of RA symptoms, but you can take control of other important aspects of your health, such as physical fitness. Regular exercise can help keep your weight down, your muscles strong and your energy levels up. And feeling better overall may help you to feel stronger when you do experience a flare-up of RA symptoms.
In general, there are three categories of exercise: flexibility, strengthening and aerobic.
Flexibility exercises are also known as range-of-motion, stretching or warm-up exercises. They are perhaps the most important type of exercise for people with RA, since they help keep your muscles stretched and your joints working their best. They also promote comfortable movement during more vigorous exercise and other activities. These exercises can be especially helpful in fighting joint stiffness.
Strengthening exercises increase muscle strength and endurance. This type of exercise is beneficial for people with RA since joint symptoms of RA can weaken your muscles. It can help build up your muscles, which is necessary for many activities of daily living, such as walking, climbing stairs and lifting and reaching objects. Many strengthening exercises are done with hand-held or wrap-around weights, elastic bands or the weight of your body.
Aerobic exercises promote overall health by making your heart, lungs, blood vessels and muscles work better. What's more, aerobic exercises can reduce your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
Walking, swimming and bicycling are some fun, easy ways to incorporate aerobic activity into your exercise routine. You can even incorporate aerobics into your everyday activities.
Did you know that you can get a good amount of exercise by cleaning your house, raking leaves or walking the dog?
Getting a little exercise might be easier than you think.
The symptoms of RA may make exercise seem difficult or even impossible at first. The important thing is to pace yourself and listen to your body's signals that it needs rest. Also be sure to talk to your doctor before starting any new exercises. Your doctor, a physical therapist or occupational therapist can offer more guidance about exercising safely. And be sure to check out this Website for more information on additional exercises.
(This information pertains to RA patients in general. For specific advice, it is strongly advised that you consult your physician before beginning any diet or exercise program.)
As a person with RA, the thought of exercise might seem intimidating or even impossible. However, exercise is an important part of managing RA symptoms and can even make everyday activities easier and less painful.
When you have RA, though, make sure to balance your exercise with rest. When your symptoms aren't bothering you as much, you can exercise more. At times when your symptoms are worse, you can adjust your routine to include less strenuous exercises and more time for rest. If you have any pain or discomfort while exercising, take a break or stop doing that particular exercise. Be sure to check with your doctor before starting any new exercise routine. Your doctor can also be helpful in planning an exercise program that works for you.
Types of exercise for people with RA
When people with RA become less active, they can develop weaker muscles. They can also limit their ability to freely move their joints. The exercises listed in the table below may help people with RA counter these effects. Just click on an exercise in the right column to learn how to do it.
TYPES OF EXERCISE FOR PEOPLE WITH RA
Strengthening, or Resistance, Exercises
- Help build up muscles necessary for many activities of daily living
- Promote strong muscles to help absorb shock and protect your joints
Usually done with hand-held or wrap-around weights, elastic bands or the weight of your body
- Help your heart, lungs, blood vessels and muscles work better
- Can reduce your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes
- May help improve endurance, strengthen bones, control weight and reduce depression and anxiety
- Swimming and other water exercises
- Cross-country skiing
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Glossary Of Terms
flare or flare-up
A sudden recurrence of the signs and symptoms of a disease. More...
A person who uses massage, heat treatment, exercise and other physical methods to help restore function and prevent disability in people with RA and other conditions. More...
A doctor who specializes in diseases that affect the joints. More...