For individuals with rheumatoid arthritis, it can be hard to determine how to stay active without exacerbating the condition. Exercise is not only important for general health and wellness, but it can also help to manage symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the basics of how to start exercising with rheumatoid arthritis. We’ll cover the different types of exercises that are beneficial, safety tips, and other considerations to keep in mind when starting an exercise program. By following the steps outlined below, you should be able to create a safe and effective workout routine that will help to reduce your pain and improve your overall quality of life.
The Benefits of Exercise for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Regular exercise is one of the best things you can do for your rheumatoid arthritis (RA). It eases pain and stiffness, helps you maintain strength and range of motion, boosts your energy, and improves your overall health.
There are many different types of exercise you can do, from low-impact activities like walking and swimming to more strenuous ones like running and weightlifting. Talk to your doctor or a physical therapist about what type of exercise is right for you. They can also help you create an exercise plan that’s safe and effective.
Start by doing a little bit of exercise each day, and gradually increase the amount as you feel able. If you have a flare-up (a period when your RA symptoms get worse), don’t push yourself too hard – rest until the flare-up has passed.
Exercise has so many benefits for people with RA, so make it a part of your daily routine!
The Different Types of Exercise
There are many different types of exercise, and each has its own benefits. Here are some different types of exercise to consider when starting an exercise program with rheumatoid arthritis:
1. Aerobic Exercise: Aerobic exercise is any type of activity that gets your heart rate up and makes you breathe harder. Examples include walking, running, biking, swimming, and dancing. Aerobic exercise can help improve your cardiovascular health, increase your energy levels, and reduce RA symptoms like fatigue and pain.
2. Strength Training: Strength-training exercises help build muscle strength and endurance. They can be done with weights, resistance bands, or bodyweight exercises like push-ups and sit-ups. Strength-training can help improve joint stability and function, as well as reduce RA symptoms like pain and fatigue.
3. Flexibility Exercise: Flexibility exercises help improve range of motion in your joints and muscles. They can be done through stretching or yoga. Improving flexibility can help reduce RA symptoms like stiffness and pain.
4. Balance Exercise: Balance exercises help improve your balance and coordination. They can be done through activities like Tai Chi or Pilates. Improving balance can help reduce the risk of falls, as well as reduce RA symptoms like pain and fatigue.
How to Start Exercising Safely with Rheumatoid Arthritis
If you have rheumatoid arthritis (RA), you may worry that exercise will make your symptoms worse. But the opposite is true—regular physical activity can actually help relieve pain and other RA symptoms.
The key to starting an exercise program with RA is to take things slowly at first. “You want to start out gradually and increase your activity level slowly over time,” says Nicole Berne, PhD, MPT, OCS, an assistant professor of rehabilitation medicine at NYU Langone Orthopedic Hospital.
Here are some tips for getting started
1. Check with your doctor first. Before starting any new exercise routine, it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor or RA specialist first. They can give you specific advice on what types and amounts of exercise are safe for you.
2. Warm up before you work out. A brief warm-up helps prepare your muscles and joints for exercise and can reduce your risk of injury. Start by walking slowly for 5 minutes or doing some gentle stretching exercises.
3. Choose low-impact activities. High-impact activities like running or jumping can be hard on your joints and may not be the best choice if you have RA.
4. Don’t forget about strength training.
How to start an exercise regime with RA
1. Talk to your doctor: Before you start any new exercise program, it’s important to discuss it with your doctor or healthcare provider. They can help you create an individualized exercise plan that takes your specific needs and abilities into account.
2. Choose low-impact exercises: Some types of exercise, such as running and jumping, can be too jarring for people with RA. Low-impact activities, such as swimming, cycling or walking are better options.
3. Start slowly and set realistic goals: Begin your new exercise program slowly and gradually increase the intensity of your workouts as you become more comfortable. It’s important to set realistic goals and not to push yourself too hard.
4. Incorporate stretching: Stretching can help reduce stiffness and increase flexibility. Try to incorporate stretching into your daily routine, both before and after exercise.
5. Take breaks: It’s important to listen to your body and take regular breaks when needed. If you’re in pain or feeling overly fatigued, you may need to reduce the intensity of your workout or take a day off.
6. Make it a habit: Consistency is key when it comes to exercise. Try to make physical activity a part of your daily routine and set aside a specific time for it. This will help you stay motivated and stick with your exercise plan.
Starting to exercise with rheumatoid arthritis can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. With the right preparation and understanding of your possible limitations, you can start exercising safely and with confidence. By speaking with a doctor or physical therapist about what exercises are best for you, taking breaks when needed, focusing on low-impact activities that work for your body type and utilizing helpful tools such as braces or cushions when necessary, you can make sure that exercise is an enjoyable experience while also helping manage the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.