Exercise for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Overview

Exercise can reduce pain and improve function in people who have RA. It may also help prevent the buildup of scar tissue. This can lead to weakness and stiffness. Exercise for arthritis takes three forms:

Stretching.

Stretching involves moving joint and muscle groups through and slightly beyond their normal range of motion and holding them in position for at least 15 to 30 seconds.

Strengthening.

Strengthening involves moving muscles against some resistance. Strengthening exercise helps people who have RA stay more active and able to do their daily activities. It even seems to help their outlook.footnote 1

Conditioning.

Conditioning exercise improves aerobic fitness. It may help reduce pain and help you stay more active.footnote 2 Even moderate activity, such as walking, can improve your health and may prevent disability from RA.

Be sure to follow your doctor's advice about your exercise program.

References

Citations

  1. O'Dell JR (2013). Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. In GS Firestein et al., eds., Kelley's Textbook of Rheumatology, 9th ed., vol. 2, pp. 1137–1160. Philadelphia: Saunders.
  2. Baillet A, et al. (2010). Efficacy of cardiorespiratory aerobic exercise in rheumatoid arthritis: Meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Arthritis Care and Research, 62(7): 984–992.

Credits

Current as of: December 20, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Anne C. Poinier MD - Internal Medicine
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Nancy Ann Shadick MD, MPH - Internal Medicine, Rheumatology

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