Exercising Properly with Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disease that can cause excruciating pain and stiffness in the joints and nearby tissues. It is also an autoimmune disease, which means that the symptoms can affect any part of the body (systemic disease). However, you can help relieve some of these RA symptoms with an exercise regimen that has been specifically tailored to your condition.
The Basics of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is a progressive disease and the initial effects tend to develop gradually, often being mistaken for some other more common illnesses. As it is an autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis can be quite difficult to diagnose, and it tends to affect more women than men. However, as this disease progresses, more distinct symptoms such as pain, stiffness, and inflammation in the joints begin to manifest. Some RA patients may develop severe deformity in the small joints of their hands or feet if this disease is not well managed.
Benefits of Regular Physical Fitness
Far too often, people living with rheumatoid arthritis think that exercising is out of the question given their medical condition. This is an unfortunate misconception that groups like the Arthritis Foundation are working to dispel, since regular exercise can provide essential benefits for arthritic joints. Not only will exercise help to build muscle strength and a sense of emotional well-being, but it can also improve range of motion in the joints and thereby lower joint pain. Additionally, you’ll be lowering your risk of developing other associated conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes later in life.
Talk To Your Doctor First
The Arthritis Foundation and SpineUniverse highly recommend talking to your primary health care provider and/or a physical therapist prior to beginning a new exercise routine if you have a chronic inflammatory disease like rheumatoid arthritis. Your doctor can help you choose an appropriate exercise routine based on your symptoms and overall level of health. Usually, there will be a variety of exercises available to you, so they could also help you pick the routines that could offer you most enjoyment. It is important to pick a workout routine that you enjoy because this will help you stick to it for the long-term.
Recommended Exercises for Rheumatoid Arthritis
The best exercise routines for rheumatoid arthritis are usually aerobic exercises that are not too strenuous on the affected joints. Things like strength training workouts and range-of-motion exercises are recommended for improving strength and range-of-motion in the joints. If you are interested in trying some aerobic exercises, then you’ll want to look into walking or bicycling. Your potential options for strength training workouts include low to moderate weight lifting and yoga classes (this also counts as range-of-motion exercise). Another exercise option that has become popular among people living with this inflammatory condition is aquatic therapy. These underwater routines are recommended for almost anyone who has been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.
Remember To Take Things Slow at First
Remember that it is important to take things slowly when you first get started with your new exercise routine. The point is to be able to stay active on a regular basis, so you don’t want to overdo it early and end up straining yourself. If you feel like you exercise routine is too strenuous on your affected joints, then your doctor should be able to help you modify your routine so that you can continue to exercise without pain.