(BlackDoctor.org) — Exercising when you’re already stiff and sore, not to mention tired — that’s got to be a joke, right? If you’re like many with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), getting yourself up to exercise can be difficult — literally.
But exercising with RA is vital to your health — and much more likely to make you feel better than worse. It may take a leap of faith to believe that when you’re in pain, but it only takes small steps to start feeling the benefits.
How Exercise Helps Rheumatoid Arthritis
Exercise may help reduce joint pain, swelling, and stiffness, and increase muscle strength and flexibility. It also can give you more energy. Weight-bearing exercise such as walking also strengthens your bones and helps prevent osteoporosis. After menopause, all women are at risk for thinning bones but women with RA are at higher risk. Taking steroids to bring down inflammation makes the risk go even higher.
Aerobic exercise — the kind that gets your heart pumping faster — can help you keep your weight under control. It also helps protect against heart disease, another condition where having RA raises your risk. Finally, regular exercise helps you sleep better and helps alleviate the stress and depression that can come with RA.
Exercise and RA: The First Steps