Stretching, strength, and aerobic exercises are all safe and effective for people with rheumatoid arthritis. Focusing on core, balance, and flexibility training will be very important.
Stretching exercises consist of stretching and holding different joint and muscle groups for 10 to 30 seconds each. Static gastrocnemius stretch is great to stretch the calf muscles. A static kneeling hip flexor stretch is another great stretch.
Strength, or resistance, training involve working the muscle against resistance, and can be done with or without weights. An individual should start with very low number of repetitions and gradually increase to the number usually associated with improved muscular fitness, such as 10 to 12 repetitions, 2 to 3 times per week, before increasing weight or resistance.
Aerobic exercise improves cardiovascular fitness, which makes your heart and blood vessels healthier. Some activities that may be beneficial are walking, swimming, stationary cycling, or using an elliptical machine.
An individual with rheumatoid arthritis should avoid high-impact activities such as jogging on a paved road and heavy weight lifting. However, if you would still like to participate in these activities be sure to check with your physician first.
Exercises that cause pain to persist for more than 1 hour after exercise shold be modified or removed from your routine.
It is important to remember that improving muscle strength and enhancing flexibility through exercise can decrease arthritic symptoms.