Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic, systemic, autoimmune disease, and the most common form of chronic joint inflammation, affecting 0.5–1% of the US population.
Rheumatoid arthritis is most prevalent in individuals aged 40 years or older with the risk of developing RA being up to 5 times higher in women.
As a consequence of their disease RA patients typically suffer severe joint pain, reduced muscle strength, and impaired physical function.
In some severe cases, the person can be disabled completely. However, there are some things a person can do to alleviate the affects of rheumatoid arthritis so that life can be enjoyable once more.
Table of Contents
Rheumatoid Arthritis Exercise
When you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, the last thing you probably want to do is exercise. However, exercising is one of the best things you can do when you suffer from this disease.
That’s because exercising will help strengthen your body, and will also strengthen your joints. That’s why exercise is so important for sufferers of this disease.
The fact is that exercise can help sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis live longer and it can also help to reduce overall pain. Exercise even has the added benefit of keeping your bones strong.
This is important because rheumatoid arthritis sufferers often have problems with thinning bones, especially if they take steroids.
Exercise can also help sufferers maintain muscle strength and regular exercise can help with improved functional ability.
That means the sufferer no longer has to rely so much on others in order to get around and do things. Also exercise helps people with rheumatoid arthritis feel better about themselves and that will make them better able to cope with their problems.
Types of Exercises
The types of exercises sufferers can do depend on how severe their case is. Stretching is probably the easiest exercise to engage in.
This is where the person stretches and holds various joint and muscle groups for ten to thirty seconds each. This will improve flexibility and will help make your body more limber.
Strength exercises include weight exercises and non-weight exercises like push-ups. These types of exercise will strengthen the muscles and will increase the amount of pain-free movement the person can do.
There are also conditioning exercises, like aerobic exercises. These exercises improve heart and blood vessels, prevent disability, and will improve a person’s mood and well-being.
These exercises can include walking, swimming, biking or using cardio gym machines.
Exercise is one of the best things a person with rheumatoid arthritis can do. Not only will it help to alleviate the pain and improve functionality, but it will help with self esteem and general mood, as well.
However, before starting on any exercise program it’s advised that the person make an appointment with their doctor.
See Your Doctor
Before starting on any exercise regimen, any sufferer of the disease should make an appointment with their doctor. Only a doctor can properly assess whether a certain type of exercise is beneficial to the sufferer.
There are, for instance, some exercises that a person with this disease should avoid and those include jogging and heavy weight lifting.
Other than that, as long as the doctor gives the go ahead, exercise should help improve a sufferer’s quality of life.
Exercise in general seems to improve overall function in rheumatoid arthritis without any proven detrimental effects to disease activity.
Thus all rheumatoid arthritis patients should be encouraged to include some form of aerobic and resistance exercise training as part of their routine care.
More research is still required on the optimal dose and types of exercises, especially when combining types, as well as how best to incorporate exercise into the lives of rheumatoid arthritis patients across the variable course of the disease.