Modes of Exercise
Cardiorespiratory exercises and routines provide have some of the greatest potential benefit for individuals with rheumatoid arthritis. There are a vast number of potential cardiorespiratory exercises, but some of the best options for individuals with rheumatoid arthritis are low impact activities, such as:
- Brisk walking on a path, track, or treadmill
- Elliptical movement
- Road or stationary cycling
- Aquatic exercise
- Aerobic dance
- Daily tasks such as yard work and walking a dog
Individuals with rheumatoid arthritis can job, too, but may feel additional soreness due to the impact of the activity. They may wish to consult with their physician, trainer, and/or physical therapist before engaging in such high impact activities as jogging.
Resistance training and strength exercises can help to reduce pain and stiffness in and around joints. This occurs when muscles around the joint are strengthened, leading to greater joint support and reduced loading and stress on the joint. Additionally, stronger muscles may help reduce bone loss. For these exercises, repetition is more important than weight. While some individuals may be comfortable using free weights, others may be better off using weight machines, or simply doing body weight exercises. They should determine this by consulting with their physician, trainer, and/or physical therapist and determining what type of resistance training provides the most benefit without causing additional bodily stress.
Flexibility exercises can have tremendous benefit for individuals with rheumatoid arthritis, as they can help relieve pain and increase mobility, balance, and overall functionality. Exercises should be done five to 10 times a day, especially in the evening close to one’s bed time, as this may help prevent morning stiffness. Additionally, general stretching exercises should be done at least three days a week, with each stretch being held for approximately 30 seconds.
Mind and body exercises can have tremendous benefit in both improving fitness and mitigating the aches and pains associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Deep breathing, yoga, and tai chi are all activities in which individuals with rheumatoid arthritis should consider participating.