7 Exercises for People with Rheumatoid Arthritis

The HealthCentral Editorial Team | March 12, 2014 Nov 1, 2016

1 of 7
1 of 7

Yoga

Yoga has been shown to improve physical function, strength and flexibility in people living with rheumatoid arthritis. For some people with RA, it may be necessary to modify certain yoga poses to minimize joint stress.

2 of 7

Tai chi

Tai Chi has been found to improve muscle strength, endurance, mood and quality of life in people with RA. Overall physical function may also improve, but, like yoga, some poses may need to be modified to protect the joints.

3 of 7

Stretching

Stretching can help maintain or improve flexibility in joints and surrounding muscles, which contributes to better posture and overall function. It also may help reduce the risk for injuries. Holding each stretch for 30 seconds, and perform stretching exercises three days a week for the best results.

4 of 7

Range of motion

Range of motion (ROM) exercises are often used in therapeutic programs, as they can improve joint stiffness and flexibility. Some people find that doing ROM exercises in the evening helps reduce joint stiffness the next morning. In most cases, it’s best to do ROM exercises five to 10 times a day.

5 of 7

Water exercise

Water exercise or water aerobics can be a good alternative for people with RA. The water can provide some resistance, while also being easy on the joints.

6 of 7

Resistance training

Resistance training and strengthening exercises are important, as strong muscles can provide greater joint support and reduce the load and stress through the joint. Healthy muscle can also improve function and help reduce bone loss from inactivity.  Weight resistance should challenge the muscles without increasing joint pain. Even lifting a limb against gravity is a form of resistance training.

7 of 7

Low-impact activities

When doing aerobic exercises, it’s important to talk to your doctor about what is safe for you. For some people with RA, that might mean walking, using a stationary bike or elliptical trainer. For others, daily activities, such as raking leaves, walking the dog or doing housework may be sufficient.

NEXT: Hot Weather and RA Pain
More on this topic

11 Frequently Asked Questions About RA

Lene Andersen

How to Stay Active with RA

Lene Andersen

How to Make Life Easier with RA

Allison Tsai

Healthy Diet and Exercise Plan with RA

Britt J Johnson

Cooking Doesn't Have to Suck with RA

Britt J Johnson

The Pursuit of Happiness with RA

Lene Andersen

Custom Orthotics Soothe RA Feet

Vanessa Collins

How to Find a Rheumatologist?

Lene Andersen

Which Doctor Do You Really Need?

Lene Andersen

Why You Need to Protect Your Kidneys

Lene Andersen

Practical Tips for Managing RA Pain

Britt J Johnson

Tired of Being Tired

Lene Andersen

Finding Support Online

Vanessa Collins

The Green Light to Better Health

Marianna Paulson

Adapting to Life with RA

Lene Andersen

Can You Work With RA?

Leslie Rott

Planning Your Future

Lene Andersen

"I'm Fine" (AKA I'm Most Definitely Not Fine)

Britt J Johnson

Early Signs of RA

Lisa Emrich

Friendly Health Habits and RA

Marianna Paulson

RA and Eye Health Complications

Lisa Emrich

Relationship Tips for RA

Lene Andersen

11 Tips for Getting Through The Work Day With RA

Marianna Paulson

5 Smoothies for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Tracy Davenport, Ph.D.

How to Make Your Office RA-Friendly

Anna Legassie

Fighting RA: One Woman's Story

Lene Andersen

Getting Support When Your Family Lives Far Away

Cathy Kramer

Buying A Car When You Have RA

Marianna Paulson

Dogs help you live a better life with RA

Cathy Kramer

Living with RA: Turning Points

Bridging the Gap: Living Well With RA

Are there gender differences in RA?

Lene Andersen

What People With RA Want You to Know

Lene Andersen

How to Practice Self-Care on Bad RA Day

Lene Andersen

What People with RA Should and Shouldn't Eat

Lene Andersen

Turmeric and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Lene Andersen

10 Reasons to Be Grateful for RA

Lene Andersen

Managing Your Money with RA

Lene Andersen

Best Ways to Manage RA Treatment Side Effects

Lene Andersen

Must-Read Tips for RA Hospital Stays

Marianna Paulson

10 Things That Make Life with RA Easier

Lene Andersen

Top 10 Challenges of RA the Invisible Illness

Leslie Rott

Self Care for the Holidays

Lene Andersen

Is Your RA Treatment Working?

Lene Andersen

Hot Weather and Pain

Anna Legassie

How Living with RA Can Affect Your Sex Life

The HealthCentral Editorial Team

Cleaning Tips with RA

Marianna Paulson

Who Can Help with Your RA?

Leslie Rott