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Arthritis Today

Exercising With Rheumatoid Arthritis

Activity eases pain and stiffness and improves joint strength and mood.

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A rheumatoid arthritis exercise regimen may be the last thing on your mind when you are tired and your joints ache, but it may be just what you need to ease pain and improve your energy level.

Studies show that regularly exercising with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) may help reduce joint pain and stiffness, increase joint mobility and muscle strength and improve psychological well-being. Regular exercise can also help reduce your risk of other health problems, such as heart disease or diabetes, which can accompany RA.

Before beginning an exercise program, it’s important to speak with your doctor or physical therapist to find an appropriate exercise program for you. Ideally, your exercise program would include aerobic exercise to strengthen your heart and lungs, strengthening exercises to make your muscles stronger so they can better support your joints, and stretching exercises to keep your muscles flexible and joints moving freely. One form of physical activity almost anyone with arthritis can do is water exercise.

If you haven’t been active for a while, start slowly and do whatever you can at first. As you become stronger and your endurance increases, you will be able to exercise longer and more strenuously.

It’s also important to pay attention to your body. If a particular joint is actively inflamed, give that joint a rest, but continue to exercise. And while it’s natural to experience some muscle soreness following a workout, increased joint pain may mean you’re working too hard and need to scale back your exercise routine.

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