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Rheumatoid Arthritis and Exercise

Written by maria_rn, ColleenO.

Research show that regular exercise may benefit patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Regular exercise relieves symptoms, improves coordination, endurance and the ability to carry out daily activities. It also improves over-all health and reduces one's chances developing other health problems, such as heart disease or diabetes.

Effect of Exercise on Rheumatoid Arthritis

Exercise is an important element of any physical therapy plan. Physical therapists can teach the patient techniques that will help manage the pain, and restore mobility and and muscle strength. The exercise plan is tailored to the patient's ability and overall fitness level. It generally includes stretching and flexibility exercises, strength exercises, and aerobic exercise.

Read more details about Exercise.

It is important to pick a type of exercise and durations that are compatible with your physical health. If you have a serious health condition, consult with your physician before starting an exercise program.

A health condition or injury may prevent you from engaging in certain types of exercise such as jogging or bike riding but walking. Gentler forms of movement such as stretching or yoga may still be safe and beneficial options.

Types of Exercise

Aerobic exercises

Conditioning or aerobic exercises strengthen the heart and lungs The aerobic exercises that are recommended for patients with rheumatoid arthritis include low-impact activities like walking, swimming and bicycling. Patients should check first with their doctors before starting an exercise program.


Yoga can be a good complimentary therapy for arthritis. Yoga poses can help strengthen the joints and improve their function, thus reducing the risk of stiffness. Below are simple yoga poses for arthritis. Read more about [Rheumatoid Arthritis and Yoga][1]


Hydrotherapy can be helpful for individuals with arthritic conditions. The warmth and buoyancy of the water make provide a safe environment for performing exercises for relieving arthritis pain and stiffness. Movements such as stretching or walking through water can exercise the joints without putting them under strain.

In hydrotherapy, a person is submersed in water, to either soak or exercise. A hydrotherapist then gives instructions on the movements appropriate for the patient's condition. The painful swelling in the joints that occurs with rheumatoid arthritis appears to decrease with hydrotherapy. The warmth of the water is effective on the joints and soft tissues to decrease swelling and improve mobility.

The Arthritis Foundation has a water exercise program for people with arthritis and related conditions. Classes are held at a local indoor pools, they are usually conducted 2 or 3 times a week. This exercise program patients the opportunity to exercise with guidance from a trained instructor.

Stretching exercises

Stretching exercises include simple movements that help improve flexibility and range of motion. Stretching should be a part of every arthritis patient’s daily routine. It warms up muscles and tendons, thereby reducing the risk of injuries.


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