Regular exercise can keep your joints and muscles strong, this also applies to people with rheumatoid arthritis. It can improve your heart health, keeping you well-equipped to deal with complications that may come up.
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Other benefits of regular exercise include:
- More stability in your joints
- Less pain
- More energy
- Better bone health
- Improved quality of life
- Improved physical function and performance
You need to stretch your muscles to ease joint stiffness and widen your range of motion. Morning is a good time for gentle stretching or yoga.
Leg/hamstring stretch: Lean forward while standing as far as you can and reach toward your toes. Make sure you bend your knees a little to keep your legs soft. Hold it for 10-20 seconds.
Finger/wrist stretch: Bend your fingers forward, then backward, holding each stretch for 10–20 seconds each time. Repeat with your hand to stretch your wrist muscles.
Cross-body arm stretch: Place your arm across the front of your body and gently hold it for 10-20 seconds, then switch to the other arm. Then reach up to the sky with one arm and then the other, tilting each arm slightly over your head to stretch your shoulders.
Neck stretches: Drop your head forward gently, and then roll it slowly toward one shoulder and back toward the other.
2. Yoga Poses
Cobra: Lie on the floor face-down, keeping your toes pointed away from you. Press your palms into the floor and slowly raise your upper body. Your elbows should remain close to your side.
Extended leg balance: Put all your weight on one foot while standing. Use a chair or table for support and gradually lift your leg and hold it with one leg on the outside of your knee. For an even better stretch, rotate your leg out to the side from that position and hold.
Seated spinal twist: Sit up tall in a chair and put your hand on the outside of the opposite thigh. Gently twist in the direction of your arm and hold. Switch to the other side.
3. Strength Exercises
Rheumatoid arthritis can slowly take away muscle mass. So, it’s essential to work out your muscles to help them remain strong.
You can do isometric exercises if you have swollen joints. They hold your muscles in one place. They also don’t make you move your joints.
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If your joints aren’t swollen, isotonic exercises (movements that work against resistance, like weightlifting) are good for building up muscles. Discuss with your doctor before you start any kind of strength training.
Abdominal contractions: To do this isometric exercise, lie on your back and put your hands on your stomach muscles. Lift your head and hold it. You can continue this exercise by squeezing the muscles that lifted your head without actually picking it up, too.
Palm press: This is isometric, too. Hold your hands so they face each other. One hand should have fingertips up and the other should have fingertips down. Press your palms together and hold.
Bicep lifts: While you sit in a chair with your arms resting on your thighs palms up, hold light weights in your hands. Then, raise them toward your shoulders, bending at the elbow.
Seated knee lift: With a resistance band over your legs in a seated position, raise one leg slowly, then switch sides.
4. Exercises for Endurance
Aerobic exercises raise your breathing and heart rates. Engage in exercises that get your blood pumping while being easy on your joints.
Walking: Taking daily walks are important. Start with slow and short strolls if you’re new to regular exercise. Then work up to longer, faster walks as you get stronger. Ensure to stretch before you start and after you finish. Drink lots of water, too.
Cycling: A stationary bike takes away your risk of a fall. Start slowly if you’re a beginner, and go faster as you get better.
Swimming: Water exercise like swimming is great when you have rheumatoid arthritis. They take weight off your joints. They also raise your heart rate. Water also acts as resistance against your muscles. That can make you stronger.