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How Exercise Can Help with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Dr. Sanjay Kapoor 91% (164 ratings)
M. Ch. (Orthopedic), MS - Orthopaedics, Diploma In Orthopaedics (D. Ortho), MBBS
Orthopedist, Gurgaon  •  20 years experience
How Exercise Can Help with Rheumatoid Arthritis

If you are middle aged and can feel pain in your joints and can see them get inflamed and turn red, chances are that you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis. An early diagnosis can help control it through medication, lifestyle changes and exercise.

Exercise is one of the most important aspects of the treatment of this disease. Exercise has many benefits for a rheumatoid arthritis patient. Some of these are: 

  1. Increased flexibility: Exercise helps relieve the stiffness caused by the disease and keeps your joints flexible. 
  2. Stronger muscles and bones: This helps strengthen the muscles that support joints. It also helps strengthen bones by making them denser and thus preventing fractures. 
  3. Pain management: When you exercise, the joints are kept flexible and the pain associated with moving them is reduced. 
  4. A healthier heart: Rheumatoid arthritis increases the risk of suffering from heart disease. By exercising regularly, the heart muscles are kept healthy and there are lowered chances of heart diseases. 
  5. More energy: Exercising boosts energy production, helps you sleep better and makes you a happier person. 

Before you begin exercising consult your doctor to see what kind of exercises are suitable for you and what should be avoided.

Your exercise plan should cover these three points: 

  1. Cardio: Avoid high impact exercises like running on paved roads and instead create a low impact exercise routine for yourself. Walking, swimming and cycling are good forms of exercise to increase your heart rate. Try and exercise for 30 minutes a day. 
  2. Flexibility: Exercise is the only way to fight stiffness in joints. Do gentle stretches that are relaxing and do not hurt. Stretching a good way to warm up before cardio but should never be hurried. If a muscle starts paining while you re stretching it, stop immediately. 
  3. Strength training: This sort of exercise helps build muscle strength and can be done in a gym or at home. Lifting hand held weights, working with resistance bands and using your own weight to create resistance are some ways of strength training. Start by doing these exercises every alternate day. As your muscles get stronger, you can increase the number of sets of each exercise. Avoid heavy weight lifting. The important part of exercising is to be regular. Exercising with a friend can help you stay motivated. Setting goals for yourself in terms of number of hours a week can also help keep you moving.
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