Get Moving: Rheumatoid Arthritis and Exercise | arthritis, rheumatoid, hour, david, says, pain, joint, exercise, stiffness, particularly
Joint pain. Swelling. Morning stiffness. If you are experiencing these symptoms, particularly for more than a half an hour on a daily basis, you may have rheumatoid arthritis, says Kaiser Permanente Rheumatology expert Dr. David Lee.
“Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic arthritis that we see in men and women,” says Dr. Lee. “It’s seen more commonly in women and can affect all age groups, although it’s onset most typically occurs between the ages of 30 and 50.”
The disease affects the joints. But it’s more than that, says Dr. Lee. It’s a systemic autoimmune condition that can also affect the lungs, eyes, skin and other organs. With the aid of medications, the condition can be controlled.
But while medication is a good way to get a grip on managing inflammation of the joints, exercise can also be effective. “Rheumatoid arthritis patients really need physical activity,” says Dr. Lee. “The benefits it provides are wonderful, including increased pain tolerance, enhanced muscle strength, improved bone density and better balance.”
In addition to being good for the joints, exercise can also be therapeutic for those dealing with rheumatoid arthritis. “If someone undergoes joint surgery or has joint tightness, for example, they will require physical therapy and certain range of motion exercises to overcome those problems,” advises Dr. Lee.
Recreational and competitive exercises, including swimming, water aerobics, yoga and Tai chi are also recommended. “Considered body awareness exercises, yoga and tai chi have been found to be helpful for rheumatoid arthritis patients,” adds Dr. Lee.
For those who don’t like regimented exercises, golfing, walking or hiking may be more enjoyable forms of exercise, or even yard work. “Exercise should make you happy,” says Dr. Lee. “You should not do it because you have to, but because you want to.” Dr. Lee advises getting in 150 minutes of exercise over the course of a week, consisting of range of motion, stretching and strengthening exercises. “Together, these exercise help maintain good joint health.”