5 Best Exercises For Rheumatoid Arthritis
If you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, these 5 best exercises for rheumatoid arthritis should be part of your comprehensive treatment plan. When your joints feel stiff, swollen and painful, exercise is probably the last thing on your mind. But exercise should be a priority. You may be wondering if exercise is safe for people with rheumatoid arthritis. While people with RA should avoid some forms of exercise (jogging and heavy weight lifting, for example), other exercises are proven safe for arthritis sufferers. Here are the 5 best types:
- Stretching exercises. Stretching is the simplest and easiest way for people with rheumatoid arthritis to exercise. Stretching improves flexibility and is the basis for other kinds of exercise. Any treatment plan for rheumatoid arthritis should include a variety of stretching exercises for the different joints and muscle groups.
- Range-of-motion exercises. Range-of-motion exercises are special types of stretching and flexibility exercises. They are gentle stretching movements that move each of your joints through its full range of motion. Range-of-motion exercises help prevent joint stiffness, as well as the deformities often associated with rheumatoid arthritis.
- Strength exercises. Strength exercises are resistance exercises for the muscles. You can perform strength exercises with or without the use of weights and elastic bands. Resistance exercises build and strengthen your muscles to help reduce arthritis pain.
- Aerobic exercises. Aerobic exercises condition your cardiovascular system. They include a variety of physical activities that benefit your heart, lungs and blood vessels. Also called endurance exercises, they can prevent disability, elevate your mood and improve your general health. Walking, swimming and bicycling are good low-impact aerobic activities for people with RA.
- Increased activity. While you may not consider general activity to be exercise, anything that gets you moving is good exercise for people with arthritis. Get creative and sneak some physical activity into each day. For example, take a ten minute walk during your lunch break. Use the stairs instead of the elevator, or participate in a television fitness program.
A rheumatologist, physical therapist, or occupational therapist can help you design an exercise program tailored just for you. And don’t overlook community exercise programs like People with Arthritis Can Exercise (PACE) and the Arthritis Self Help Course (ASHC). Both programs are sponsored by the national Arthritis Foundation.