The Golden Rule of Rheumatoid Arthritis Joint Health: Keep Moving!
The golden rule of joint health – stay in motion. More movement means less stiffness. When it comes to rheumatoid arthritis (RA), being active is one of the best self-care measures.
While joint pain varies from individual to individual, it’s important to understand personal limits. The benefits of physical exercise will be obvious after it becomes a part of your everyday life. These benefits include:
- Stronger body muscles – Exercise strengthens the muscles, helping them to support and protect your joints.
- Healthier heart – Exercise is good for keeping your heart in good health. If you are suffering from RA, this is especially vital because the condition makes you more prone to heart disease.
- Stronger and more stable bones – Certain medications for RA can cause bone fragility, but exercising helps to boost your bone density.
- Better flexibility and less pain from RA – Moving your joints helps alleviate pain and stiffness associated with RA and keeps them flexible.
In order to get your body moving, it is essential to make sure that your exercise plan incorporates the basics, including:
- Cardio - Cardio gives you a much-needed boost to keep your heart rate up and to keep your blood flowing. In turn, it helps to strengthen your heart and gives you more stamina. Whether you are considering walking, swimming, bicycling, dancing, or performing low-impact aerobics, aim for 30 minutes 2-3 times per week.
- Gentle exercises – Gentle exercises are types of exercises that help relax your muscles and improve your flexibility. They should be performed on a daily basis and most importantly, they should not hurt.
- Strengthening exercises – Strengthening exercises are types of exercises, such as push ups, that are designed to strengthen your core muscles. You can use resistance bands, machines at the gym, or even your own body weight. In general, a proper balance of cardio and strength training is recommended 3-4 times per week. Over time, your strength training workouts should get harder.
While most doctors recommend exercise for patients with RA, it is important to speak with him or her about what is right for you and what you should avoid. You doctor may even refer you to a physical therapist who has experience working with individuals who have RA. The physical therapist will educate you on proper body mechanics, approaches to pain relief, as well as approaches to joint protection. He or she will identify what areas of your body need work, what exercises are right for you, as well as how vigorously you should exercise.
Read on to learn more about proper and safe exercising with rheumatoid arthritis.