The benefits of exercise for Rheumatoid Arthritis are numerous. The primary benefit is that it helps you to maintain flexibility in your joints. This can improve your mobility, and slightly lessen or delay future damage. There are other benefits, as well. Exercise can help you to keep the weight off, or lose any extra pounds you may have. This equates to less weight and pressure being placed on your joints, which has been scientifically proven to greatly aid the pain of arthritis.
Exercise for Rheumatoid Arthritis suffers has also shown the following benefits:
- It builds muscle, which provides a better muscular support for your bones and joints
- Improves heart and lung health
- Improves disposition, balance, endurance, and prevents stiff joints
- Release endorphins, which puts you in a better mood, and protects you against anxiety and depression
The best exercise for Rheumatoid Arthritis suffers are those that don't put needless extra pressure on the joints. This includes low-impact cardio and strength training, such as water aerobics and body weight exercises. Take a look at these simple exercise ideas for RA sufferers:
Exercise For Rheumatoid Arthritis
Water kicks are done in the pool or other bodies of water. Holding onto a steady surface along the side with your arms, kick your feet gently back and forth. You can gradually increase the range of motion to make the kicks bigger, but do not push past what is comfortable for you.
Yoga is made for flexibility and pain reduction – plus, it's also good for handling stress. Try gentle, beginner moves like tree pose, downward dog, cow pose, and cat pose, to begin with. If you feel comfortable, you can gradually increase the difficulty of your yoga workouts.
Just taking a simple walk can do wonders. You can walk briskly, or meander leisurely. The point is that you get up and get moving, even if it only for fifteen minutes. The fresh air and sunshine will also do wonders for your disposition.
Lifting weights can help to strengthen muscles, and build endurance. But don't be tempted to start bench pressing hundreds of pounds. Begin with a two to five-pound weight, and easy exercises like bicep curls. If you feel comfortable, you can gradually increase the weights used or the range of exercises, but never push yourself too hard, too far, too fast.
In a pool that is about chest deep, “jog” or walk from one side to the next. The water will reduce the pressure placed on your joints, but you will still garner the same benefits as those done traditionally. Some gyms even offer underwater treadmills, which can be adjusted in speed and intensity.
Precautions & Warnings
- Do not overexert yourself or “push through the pain”
- Rest two to three days after an RA flare to prevent further damage
- Always consult your doctor prior to beginning a new workout regiment
- Start small and work your way up to prevent further damage or pain