Hey Warriors! Do you find it hard to get up and exercise somedays, especially during a flare? In this week’s blog post we will be discussing exercises that are good to do for patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Starting slow helps a lot and sometimes during a flare is one of the most important times to exercise.
Our first tip is to stretch daily to help with flexibility and range of motion. If you can set a side time in the morning to do this that would be best for your body. This tends to help reduce joint stiffness throughout the day. A good stretching routine would be: warm up by walking in place for a couple of minutes, then do stretches that involve your knees, elbows, and hands in a slow movement and hold these stretches for 10-20 sec, then repeat each stretch. If you find yourself not maintaining proper form, use a yoga strap.
During a flare you may not have tons of energy, so after stretching try going on a 10-15 min walk. This often times helps put you in a better mood and helps your heart and joints. Start off slow and overtime feel free to increase your pace and distance. If you still want to exercise for 30 min during a flare, try splitting it up into three sessions so you aren’t pushing yourself too hard.
Another exercise that is highly recommended is cycling, due to the fact that RA patients are at risk of cardiovascular disease. Riding a stationary bike is a great way to get your heart rate up and increase leg strength and reduce stiffness. This can also build your endurance so on your good days you can get longer workouts in!
Next we are going to talk about strength training. It is recommended that RA patients do exercises that build muscle strength in addition to cardio. A low level resistance band is a good place to start for this type of exercising. It is recommended that RA patients use lighter weights and do more repetitions. Start off with machines and only lift 5-10% of your body weight when working your upper body. You may lift 25% of your body weight when working out your legs. When starting this you may want to speak with a physical therapist, so they can give you a workout plan that is right for you.
Every patient is different and some patients may work out longer than others. Don’t push yourself too hard and it is important to rest in between workouts. A twenty to thirty min work out is all you need. On days where you aren’t feeling up for a workout try getting some stretching in and a short walk!