Studies show that regular aerobic and strength training exercise may help reduce joint pain and stiffness, increase joint mobility and muscle strength and improve psychological well-being. Do you have a New Year’s resolution even living with RA?
It is important to keep your exercise program well-rounded. According to the Arthritis Foundation, it should include aerobic exercise to strengthen your heart and lungs, strengthening exercises to make your muscles stronger so they can better support your joints, and stretching exercises to keep your muscles flexible and joints moving freely.
Indoor cycling or Spinning® is a great way to exercise with rheumatoid arthritis. The 45-minute program targets thigh and hip regions, strengthening the muscles and joints and in effect, easing the pressure on the joints. I have been spinning for the past year and it has significantly increased the strength of my leg muscles, which eases my joint pain overall.
Another good type of exercise is yoga. Some of the poses may be hard on your wrists, like they are for me, but there are variations that can help. Yoga is a good strengthening and stretching type of exercise to keep flexibility in your joints and muscles.
During exercise with rheumatoid arthritis, it is very important to pay attention to your body. If a particular joint is actively inflamed or in a flare, give that joint a rest, but continue to exercise. And while it’s natural to experience some muscle soreness following a workout, increased joint pain may mean you’re working too hard and need to scale back your exercise routine.
“Adjust your workout to accommodate your body,” Dr. Siegrist says. “If you take a spinning class and it hurts when standing on the pedals, sit – but keep pedaling. By modifying your activities, you can do the things you want to do.”
What will your New Year’s resolution be?