If you have Rheumatoid Arthritis, you probably know that exercise is good for you, but you may not know what type of exercise is good for you.  I want to share 10 things you need to know about exercising with Rheumatoid Arthritis. In addition, visit our Medical Exercise Approach page to learn more about our approach.

  1. Exercise in general should reduce overall pain for those with rheumatoid arthritis.  When exercising you should have minimal to no pain.  The idea of exercise is not to inflame the joint, but to move and exercise in a pain free manner.  The term, “No Pain, No Gain” does not apply here.
  2. Regular exercise should help you improve your functional daily movement.  It should make it easier to move and do things around the house, at work, etc…  Do not let exercise scare you, but also don’t let exercise hurt you either.
  3. Stretching on a consistent basis is important.  The more you can stretch the various muscles in your body (gently, not too aggressive) the better you will feel.
  4. Cardiovascular conditioning is important, as long as you do the right type.  It doesn’t make sense to stress your joints that have rheumatoid arthritis in them.  For instance, if you have hip pain, don’t try to run and stress the hip joint more.  You generally want to do light to moderate activity such as walking, swimming, elliptical (if it doesn’t bother you), and bicycle.  Cardiovascular exercise is good for your heart and helps you live longer.  Make sure you take the time to do this at least 2-3 times a week.
  5. The medications for rheumatoid arthritis can play havoc on your bones.  Strength training is very important to include in your regular routine because it can improve your bone density.
  6. When strength training, using machines probably won’t be good for you.  If you are having shoulder or wrist pain, machines lock your hands in to a specific movement and force the joints to move according to the movement of the machine.  Using bands, cables, dumbbells, etc… allow you to move in a way that is natural for your joints without as much discomfort.
  7. If you have wrist pain, using a dumbbell can cause increased pain because of the gripping and weight on the joint.  Some ideas are to use a resistance band or cable machine (that can allow you to keep an open hand position) or use bars with a larger grip.
  8. Swimming and water exercises can be a wonderful activity for you.  You will want to use a pool that is not too cold though.  Warmer water tends to feel more comfortable than cold water.  Often times lap pools in gyms are a little cooler than average in order to keep swimmers cool, but if you can find an outdoor pool during the summer in Texas or just a warm water pool, it will feel much better.
  9. Mix things up.  Try not to do the same activity all of the time.  The more variety you can do, the better it will be for your body.  Varying your activities allows you to use your joints different ways and it also keeps things fun.
  10. Make sure you work out at the correct intensity for you.  Sometimes you may not realize if you working out too hard or too easy.  Finding a professional personal trainer to guide you through your limitations and coach you on the right way to exercise could make a drastic difference on your results.

One Response

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