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Your body may have turned against you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t fight back.
Rheumatoid arthritis is classified as an autoimmune disorder.
This means your body has identified its own tissue as a threat. As a result, the soft tissues in your joints come under attack.
Over time, the tissue which provides a cushion between joints is eaten away. This causes swelling of the joints (and lots of pain), and can eventually lead to the erosion of the bones themselves.
This causes swelling of the joints (and lots of pain), and can eventually lead to the erosion of the bones themselves.
However, the disease can also begin to attack other soft bodily tissue found in organs such as the lungs, eyes, bone marrow, and blood vessels.
If you’ve been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, or if you suspect the condition might be developing, visit your doctor as soon as possible.
But in the meantime, let’s examine steps you can begin taking right now to help alleviate some of the symptoms and how to fight back with the best exercises for rheumatoid arthritis.
Benefits of exercise
Many sufferers will tell you that when it comes to managing symptoms naturally, exercise is the best medicine.
Staying active is important to keep symptoms at bay and to maintain overall health.
Muscles extend around your joints. As such, exercising them becomes an important component of your overall treatment plan.
Strengthening these joint muscles often leads to a decrease in symptoms.
Regular exercise and physical activity will help improve joint function while also providing a boost to overall physical and mental health.
Furthermore, staying active will help keep your energy levels up and help you avoid the mental health disorders (such as depression) which are commonly associated with the disease.
Benefits of the best exercises for rheumatoid arthritis also includes:
- Reduction of pain experienced in joints
- Boosts functioning of the immune system
- Helps fight depression and promotes emotional wellbeing
- Prevents further medical complications
- Improvement of joint flexibility and range of motion
Your exercise routine will vary depending on the severity of your symptoms.
But whatever the case, exercise should be performed on a daily basis.
Even being physically active for as little as 10 minutes per day can lead to improvements in your quality of life.
Exercise should be performed consistently, so incorporating it into your daily routine is important for the best results.
What are the best exercises for rheumatoid arthritis?
The best exercises for rheumatoid arthritis don’t involve anything fancy.
It can as simple as going for a stroll or a bike ride.
But sometimes exercising with rheumatoid arthritis doesn’t come easily.
Not only do sufferers deal with the pain of the disease, they need to fight against low energy levels and compromised mental health.
When you add it all up, getting out for a walk in the park can seem like a hike up a mountain.
As previously mentioned, though, the best exercises for rheumatoid arthritis don’t need to strenuous, just frequent and consistent.
Listed below are some of the best exercises for rheumatoid arthritis:
Walking is a low-impact form of aerobic exercise which has numerous health benefits.
It is also one of the best exercises for rheumatoid arthritis.
Why? Because of its low-impact nature, sufferers are able to increase their mobility and reduce joint pain without too much effort.
All you need is a good pair of walking shoes.
Also, because it’s a form of aerobic exercise, walking provides an added boost to your mental and cardiovascular health.
Aerobic exercises such as walking are also effective ways to manage pain. Walking releases hormones called endorphins, which act as the body’s natural painkillers.
Furthermore, walking can also become a social activity.
2. Yoga, Tai Chi, and stretching
Yoga. Everybody is doing it, even those with rheumatoid arthritis.
The health benefits of yoga are about as varied as the types of poses. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, there might be some types which are better suited for you than others.
Consider consulting your doctor to see which types would be best for your needs or limitations.
But yoga has a proven track record of improving health. It combines stretching, strength training, and mindfulness meditation.
Practicing yoga is a terrific way to increase strength and flexibility, as well as relieve stress and improve mental health.
Another similar form of exercise is Tai Chi, sometimes referred to as “meditation in motion.”
It can be used to improve balance, overall fitness, and even alleviate pain and the symptoms of depression.
But if you’re not interested in the ancient traditions, you can always try and touch your toes.
Stretching before and after workouts is a great way to improve range of motion and flexibility.
Jumping into your local swimming pool might also be one of the best exercises for rheumatoid arthritis.
Exercising in water is sometimes referred to as hydro- or aqua-therapy. And it takes the term “low-impact” to another level.
The buoyancy experienced in water relieves the pressure on your joints and back, making it ideal for those with more severe symptoms.
Exercising in water can greatly reduce joint stress and pain.
Furthermore, the natural resistance of water provides strength training while also offering the benefits of aerobic exercise.
Riding a bicycle is another excellent form of low-impact aerobic exercise.
To ensure your exercise is easy on the joints, stick to riding on smooth and level surfaces.
If the terrain doesn’t permit this, consider opting for a stationary bicycle.
The circular movement helps to improve range of motion, stamina, leg strength, and cardiovascular health.
5. Strength training
As previously discussed, building the strength of the muscles around your joints is crucial to relieving the stress created by deteriorating joint tissues.
Weight and strength training might come with some difficulty, so consult a physical therapist before incorporating this into your workout routine.
There’s a variety of exercises to choose from, depending on your needs.
However, consider using free weights or elastic resistance bands instead of workout machines.
Free weights, for example, are better for rheumatoid arthritis than machines because they allow for a greater range of motion.
Your best exercises for rheumatoid arthritis might be different from another’s.
But by using this list, you’ll be on your way to forming a routine which best suits you.
Consult with your doctor for more information about what your limitations might be. And remember, start slow and work your way up from there.
Do you have a workout routine that has helped ease your pain and other symptoms? We’d love to hear your story!