Can I Still Work Out With RA?
Regular exercise makes a world of difference in how you feel. There are some things to consider before starting a routine with RA.
Rheumatologist Susan M. Goodman, M.D., attending physician at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, shares how working out can help you live well with RA.
Patients with RA do much better if they maintain an exercise regimen. Exercise is fabulous. If you think of the joint-muscle-bone complex that works together for all function, if you have a problem with one of those components, the others can compensate. If you have a problem with your joints and your muscles are stronger and your bones are healthier, you'll be able to compensate better for that problem. Yes, you should exercise.
Now, how you exercise is going to vary. If you have a lot of pain in your joints, you should take a few days off. If you're in a severe flare, you might even want to simply perform some passive range-of-motion exercises to maintain the mobility in the affected joints.
If you're feeling well, then exercise is a real benefit, both in terms of maintaining your joint function and maintaining your good overall health. Anything that you can do—ideally patients with RA would have a swimming pool installed by the time they receive their diagnosis, preferably heated. Most people don't have access to a pool, but there’s also walking or Pilates.
There are many other things that are low impact the patients can participate in and can really be a substantial benefit. What we look at is both pain but also maintenance of function, and a good exercise regimen will really help patients maintain their level of function.