Physical activity with RA

Exercise can help reduce pain, and may slow joint damage and allow you to maintain a healthy weight. An appropriate workout can strengthen the muscle around the joint, resulting in less pain.

Exercise programs for people with arthritis are developed by a health professional (such as a physiotherapist) and include 3 types of activity: flexibility (stretching, range of motion), strengthening, and endurance (aerobic, cardiovascular).

Before starting, talk with your doctor to be sure the exercises you have in mind are right for you. Assessment by a physiotherapist can help you set appropriate goals and modify exercises to prevent joint injury. Ask what activities can be done during a flare. Gentle range-of-motion exercises can often be continued and may help preserve joint function.

Flexibility exercises

Flexibility (stretching, range of motion) exercises should be done on a daily basis. They are relaxing and aid in warming up before a more challenging exercise to help protect joints from injury.

Start slowly and work up to 15 minutes of flexibility exercises each day. When you can do 15 minutes continuously, it is probably time to add strengthening and endurance exercises to your program.

Tai chi and yoga are good examples of range-of-motion exercises.

Strengthening exercises

Strengthening exercises use resistance or weights to work your muscles and increase their strength. Strong, fit muscles help protect joints from injury and stress.

There are 2 types of strengthening exercises: isometric and isotonic.

  • Isometric exercises strengthen the muscles without moving the joint. They are a good choice for people with arthritis.
  • Isotonic exercises work the muscle while moving the joint. They can be made easier so that they can be done when a joint is inflamed. Adding repetitions or weights can make isotonic exercises more difficult, which can be done when a joint is healthy.

Strengthening exercises should be done every other day, after you have warmed up with flexibility exercises.

Endurance exercises

Any activity that uses the body's large muscles in continuous, rhythmic motions is considered an endurance exercise (e.g., aerobic, cardiovascular).

Examples include bicycling, swimming, dancing, and walking. These exercises improve the fitness of your lungs, heart, muscles, and blood vessels. Low-impact exercises (e.g., water aerobics, walking, swimming) can reduce pain and ease the symptoms of RA. Endurance exercises also control weight, increase stamina, strengthen bones, and improve your outlook on life.

Endurance exercise should be performed 3 to 4 times per week. Your goal is to exercise at your target heart range for 30 minutes per workout. You can start slowly, with even just 5 minutes initially at your target heart range, and work toward your 30-minute goal as you get stronger.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2020. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/Living-with-Rheumatoid-Arthritis

Protection of joints

Orthotic devices such as splints, insoles, and finger ring splints will stabilize and protect joints. Orthotics can help keep the joint properly aligned so that you can continue to use your joints effectively. Occupational therapists assess your joints to determine if a protective device is needed, and then recommend the option that is best for you.

To protect your joints from harm, don't perform any task that causes pain. You should change positions often and "shift rather than lift" (for example, slide items across the counter instead of lifting them). Try to conserve energy and use large joints to do the work; for example, open the door by leaning on it with your shoulder rather than using your hand and wrist.

Occupational therapists can also help you manage your daily living challenges. They can show you how to do things safely without further injuring or aggravating your joints. Some occupational therapists are specially trained in arthritis management, and they can give you personalized advice about what you can do to maximize your independence and quality of life.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2020. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/Living-with-Rheumatoid-Arthritis

Diet and nutrition with RA

Healthy eating is an important part of living well and taking control of your life. Although certain foods have not been shown to cause or cure rheumatoid arthritis (RA), eating healthy can improve your overall health. Healthy diet and nutrition can reduce your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, increase your energy, build muscle and bone strength, and help control your weight.

Here are some tips on healthy eating:

  • Limit the amount of salt, fats, and sugars in your diet. This will help control calorie intake and avoid weight gain.
  • Learn to control your food portions. Fill half the plate with vegetables and fruit, fill one quarter of the plate with meat or alternatives, and fill the last quarter of the plate with grain products.
  • Choose dark green or orange vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains.
  • Drink low-fat milk or soy-based beverages.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2020. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/Living-with-Rheumatoid-Arthritis