Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the lining of the joints, causing inflammation and pain. If left untreated, permanent joint damage can occur. Exercise is a vital component of the treatment of RA and can help reduce flare-ups. However, when you have stiff, painful joints, exercise can seem like a daunting task. In this blog, we are going to talk about the ways exercise benefits those with RA, and how you can get started safely.
Exercise and RA
The benefits of committing to a regular workout regimen go beyond improving the physical symptoms associated with RA. Exercising can help maintain range of motion, allows you to overcome the fatigue, and aids in pain management better.
Also, the emotional benefits promote a healthy and positive mental outlook. Exercise shouldn’t be painful, so listen to your body and modify or slow down at the onset of pain. Your exercise choices should be specific to maintaining joint integrity and pain management. Let’s look at some recommended exercises and video examples by The American College of Rheumatology for those with RA:
- Low-impact Aerobic Exercises– Walking, biking, or water aerobics for a total of 150 minutes a week. Water aerobics is an excellent choice for those with severe RA.
- Flexibility Activities– Stretching for 5 to 10 minutes daily
- Strengthening– Lifting weights or other resistance exercises at least two days a week
- Body Awareness– This is often a forgotten exercise type, that includes mind-body activities such as yoga and Tai chi.
Protect Your Joints
While the benefits of exercise are clear, protecting your joints during training is equally important. Before you begin any exercise regimen, talk with your doctor to make sure all safety bases are covered. Always warm-up and stretch before beginning and remember to cool down after. If you have a flare-up, you should still work out, but decrease the amount of time and intensity. Also, this is not a marathon, so breaking up your routine into short bursts versus one long session can prevent injury.
There is no cure for arthritis. Medications and physical therapy help with the pain associated with the arthritis-related conditions, but work is needed. Local physicians are working to find more effective treatment options, and without volunteers, few advancements can be made.
Ensuring effective treatment options are available for everyone is the mission of Stamford Therapeutics. Currently, we are enrolling participants in clinical trials investigating new RA treatment options. To learn more, click here. Qualified participants receive study-related care and medicine, along with reimbursement for time and travel.