(RxWiki News) Rheumatoid arthritis is a painful and potentially crippling disease.
While managing the pain can be a difficult task, exercise is one of the best ways to prevent arthritis, control pain, and improve function.
In a recent press release, Valerie Walkowiak from the Loyola Center for Fitness gives exercise tips to those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.
She says that stretching is the most helpful form of exercise for arthritis patients, as it can improve the range of motion around joints affected by the disease.
To add muscle-strength, arthritis patients should start out with light weights, being careful not to stress their joints.
"Exercise helps rheumatoid arthritis patients manage their disease."
Some people with arthritis are afraid to exercise, says Walkowiak, because they think they will hurt themselves. Patients can easily avoid injury, she adds, by working with their doctor and a therapist or personal trainer.
It is safe for people with arthritis to practice low-impact exercise - including aquatic exercise, walking, stationary bikes, lap swimming, yoga, and Tai-Chi among other activities.
Such activities can preserve and bring back range of motion and flexibility around affected joints; increase muscle strength and endurance to increase joint stability; and improve overall function, decreasing the risks of the disease.
Walkowiak warns arthritis patients not to overwork their bodies. She gives some tips for exercising safely:
- Get professional advice to set some guidelines before jumping into an exercise routine.
- Be aware of pain during exercise. Pain is not a sign of being fit.
- Don't exercise during arthritis flare-ups.
- Start slow and work your way up.
- Always warm up before exercising.
Walkowiak concludes by saying that arthritis patients who do not stay healthy and active can lose function as they grow older. In order to maintain independence and the ability to care for themselves, patients should take action now to manage their disease.