Easing the Pain Away: Simple Exercises for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Up to 80 percent of people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis (RA) say that fatigue is their most debilitating symptom. If you add joint pain and the other symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, this can dissuade a lot of people from getting regular exercise. And all of this can lead to a dramatic decrease in muscle strength. Regular exercise can actually ease RA symptoms, including fatigue, depression, lack of sleep, and joint pain. A healthy mix of aerobic and strength training exercises will help to start repairing joints that have been affected by RA. The following five simple-yet-effective types of exercises are our favorites for easing pain and keeping you healthy.
One of the simplest and most effective ways to ease RA symptoms is by taking regular walks. It’s easy on joint pain and you can do it anywhere—even around your own house. Walking also protects against heart disease, a common risk for people with RA.
The pool is the perfect place to stretch underused muscles and soothe aching joints. Swimming and water aerobics help to control weight, improve your mood and sleep, and contribute to a strong and healthy heart.
Taking the bicycle out of the garage and out for a spin or cycling on a stationary bike a few times every week is another great aerobic exercise to ease RA symptoms, as the smooth motion of cycling minimizes joint impact. Mix and match aerobic exercises like walking, swimming, and biking three to five times a week, working your way slowly and steadily up to 30- and 60-minute sessions.
The stronger your muscles are, the less strain is put on your joints. Training with weights—including weight machines, resistance bands, and free weights—helps to build muscle mass and ease joint tension. Starting slowly and increasing weight gradually is the key to safe and effective weight training. Focus on training several large muscle groups across your body, such as your legs, arms, and core two to three days a week.
Yoga and Pilates
Lack of coordination, balance problems, poor posture, increased risk of falling… Any of these sound familiar? RA-affected joints and their surrounding muscles magnify each of these problems. Yoga is the ideal way to become aware of your body and work on each of these common problems. And you’ll improve your flexibility, range of motion, and joint function in the process. Pilates helps with muscle control, especially those that affect posture.