20 May Exercise and Rheumatoid Arthritis: Is it safe?
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) affects up to 1% of the Australian population and is one of the most common types of arthritis in the community.
Our immune system normally focuses on fighting bacteria and keeping us well, but in Rheumatoid Arthritis it goes in the wrong direction resulting in inflammation to the lining of different joints. Patients often describe swelling, pain, and stiffness. All of this means that sometimes people who live with RA are unsure if exercise is a good idea, and in fact, is probably the last thing they feel like doing!
Well, the right type and amount of exercise IS a good idea – in fact, it’s a brilliant idea.
Before we begin, it is important to note that anyone with RA should be under the care of a Rheumatologist. Controlling the underlying disease process with the correct medication is paramount before commencing any type of exercise.
Assuming this has been achieved (which may take time and trials of different medications) we can them start thinking about how we can introduce exercise into our lives.
How can exercise help someone with Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Unfortunately, some of the drugs commonly used to treat this condition have negative side effects such as weight gain, decrease in muscle mass and bone density as well as fatigue. But on the bright side, exercise can help fight each one of these side effects.
- Exercise that is low impact and performed correctly can help increase fitness and overall strength – which means your muscles and bones will improve.
- Exercise can help improve the strength and health of your heart.
- Exercise can also have a very positive effect on your weight.
- Exercise can generally make you feel awesome (thanks to the hormones released in your body).
Living with any chronic condition is a constant challenge, and Accredited Exercise Physiologists are well placed to provide support, encouragement and tailored advice to anyone with RA who is keen to increase their activity levels. For more information on how to Exercise Right for Arthritis, click here.