Rheumatoid Arthritis and Exercise
When it comes to Rheumatoid Arthritis and Exercise, possibly the most important thing to remember is routine. Once you have managed to work out an exercise plan, you need to keep with it if you are to benefit.
Although RA can be restrictive and painful, you should never allow yourself to drop into a routine where you do nothing. It may seem easier at first but the health issues that follow will only make your problems worse in the long term.
There are many obvious benefits to keeping to a regular exercise routine:
No matter who you are and if you have RA or not, there is clearly a link to a longer life with a regular exercise routine.
The pain from RA can actually be reduced if you keep on with a regular routine.
Steroid treatments will often cause issues with bone density, having a regular routine can help keep the bones strong.
On a psychological level, sufferers who do keep to a regular routine often feel much better their lives, as it gives them a sense of control.
It should go without saying but exercise will keep your muscles toned.
The main benefit of a regular exercise routine is it will allow you to continue to live an independent life.
Possibly one of the most common questions that will be asked is “Is it safe to do exercises with RA?” – The simplest answer is of course, in fact it is encouraged.
Do not think you can just jump straight into anything though; you have to consider the options carefully. There are some things you will always be better off avoiding as they are more likely to cause issues than help.
You should avoid Jogging and running, sounds daft doesn’t it? But surprisingly, these types of exercise do cause “impact” on the legs, a common area to be affected by RA. Activities such as these should be taken in extreme moderation – It is far more preferable to engage in walking, which has also been shown to burn off more calories with less effort.
Lifting weights is also a bad idea, you can use light weights to keep toned if you wish but always consult your doctor first. Heavy weights will always be out of the question sadly. If you used to be someone who liked to body build, then this is something you may have to sacrifice. The chances are you will risk a lot more damage than you would benefit.
It does not mean it is out of the question, but always seek medical advice first.
So what kind of exercise should you consider? There are three main schools of thought with regards to this, and they will more than likely be mentioned to you by your physiotherapist.
Stretching is the easiest form of exercise, and one that you can do more or less anytime and anywhere. A good stretching routine is basic principle in any exercise program as warm ups or warm downs, and will help with joint stresses. You only need to stretch your muscles for a short time and it can be done anywhere.
You can do some simple stretches while you are sat watching the television, or even when you are out shopping.
There are a wide variety of stretching exercises you will be able to find all across the internet and in books. If you are worried in any way, always speak to a professional first.
Improving your strength is going to be a little more difficult as the use of weights is very limited, but you can still help with simple measures like resistance tubes or rowing machines. Just be mindful that you are only trying to keep the general tone of your muscles, you are not preparing for a marathon.
Exercise bikes are another good option, as are treadmills but once again, think about the amount of pressure you use, Keep settings low. You are not trying to train for the Olympics.
Aerobic exercise is fantastic, and will provide a great deal of health benefits for anyone whether they have RA or not. It gets your heart pumping, your lungs will improve in capacity and it has the added bonus of making you feel good as well.
Rheumatoid Arthritis and Exercise
OK! That feeling normally isn’t there the moment you stop – Often you feel more like “What the heck did I sign up for?” after your first few sessions… But when you realise just how healthy you are getting, you will soon realise that it was a great idea.
Possibly the simplest form of exercise you could embrace is swimming which will provide almost all of these benefits in one single sport.
Now, doing workouts alone can be quite daunting, many people find it easier to involve themselves in a group. It’s always worth consulting your GP to see if there are any local organisations they may refer you to.
No matter how you decide to keep active, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Exercise go hand in hand. There is no reason for the condition to control your life if you keep yourself active.