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5 Rheumatoid Arthritis Exercise Guidelines to Follow

Today we discuss Rheumatoid Arthritis Exercise Guidelines that may help you if you are suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis or RA affects 1.3 million Americans. Patients live with chronic pain and exercise can help. Exercise is a very important part of the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Exercise improves fatigue. It improves the strength of muscle and it improves the function of joints. It can improve pain as well and is an important part of general health and general well-being.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Exercise Guidelines

So here some of the very basic 5 guidelines for you to follow if you are suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.

Create an Individualized Plan

Any exercise program that a patient with rheumatoid arthritis undergoes should really be individualized to that patient. Patients have different health problems, they have different locations where arthritis has affected, and a physician can help individualize that program to further benefit the patient. Another important aspect of exercise that needs to be individualized is that patients baseline.

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So a patient whose baseline is running a marathon is a very different person than a patient who’s mostly sedentary in general at their time of diagnosis. But exercise can benefit all patients with rheumatoid arthritis. So keep this in mind in your list of┬árheumatoid arthritis exercise guidelines.

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Work with a Physical Therapist

So patients with rheumatoid arthritis can have involvement of their hands or their knees or other joints of the body. It depends upon which joints are involved, specific exercises may be beneficial. A physical therapist who works with the larger joints of the body or an occupational therapist who specialized in hand therapy can help provide an exercise program that can specifically strengthen problematic areas.

Find Activities You Enjoy

There’s a lot of different exercises that you can do. If you’re going to stick with it and continue this program, it should be something you enjoy doing. Different kinds of exercises include running, walking, biking. Some people enjoy yoga or pilates. There are many different activities you can do that will help improve your cardiac status and help get your joints strong.

Set Attainable Goals

This is one of the most vital steps in the list of rheumatoid arthritis exercise guidelines. It’s very discouraging if you don’t hit the goals that you set. So a certain reality should be kept in mind when you’re setting goals for yourself. A physical therapist may be in a unique position to help you in setting those physical goals. What those goals are will really depend on who the patient is and will vary from patient to patient.

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So for a patient who really has been sedentary for years, who’s just getting started on an exercise program, goals would be modest. This will include possibly at the beginning doing to exercise for 10 minutes a day and slowly increasing to 20 minutes a day. Then further continue on from there. For a patient who’s baseline status was more active than that, it may be jogging at a slower pace would be an initial goal, and then a faster pace and so on.

rheumatoid arthritis exercise guidelines

Stick with it

In terms of an exercise program, it’s really important to stick with it. Because the continued use of joints and continued exercise will continue to improve health and well-being. So these are the 5┬árheumatoid arthritis exercise guidelines for the patients to follow. Let us know in the comments below about your experience with these guidelines?


By Jessica Gordon, MD
Rheumatologist, Hospital of Special Surgery

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