For those with a chronic pain condition like rheumatoid arthritis (RA), the idea of exercising seems laughable. How can one possibly work up the energy to get physical when they feel so stiff, sore, and tired? The pain management specialists at The Pain Center of Arizona realize how difficult this sounds, but it is vital to a patient’s health. Studies have shown that exercising, even when dealing with RA, can have a positive effect on the mind and the body.
Not only does exercising help reduce joint pain, swelling, and stiffness, but it also increases muscle strength and flexibility. For those who feel listless and tired, exercising can also give an energy boost. Walking, a weight-bearing exercise can even help strengthen bones and prevent osteoporosis. Other benefits of aerobic exercise, which gets the heart pumping faster, include keeping weight under control, protecting against heart disease, helping patients sleep better, and alleviating the stress and depression that often accompanies RA.
While there are multiple reasons to get moving, sometimes it’s hard to feel motivated, especially when patients are also struggling with RA. The best way to start exercising is by starting slow and setting a goal. This could be anything from getting in shape for an upcoming cruise to losing weight for a fall wedding, or even running a 5K. After a goal has been settled on, set smaller goals along the way to chart progress, and then have a reward handy when that goal is achieved.
Before beginning any kind of program, patients should talk to a pain management expert to decide which exercise is best for them in light of how affected they are by RA. Also remember to be realistic. If patients don’t have much time for exercise or feel overwhelmed about starting, just start with five minutes, adding one minute more each day. Do not attempt to overdo it, either. For those who find the gym too far away or too much hassle, try exercising at home or around the neighborhood. It’s best to begin exercising with some help, such as a physical or occupational therapist. This way patients don’t strain themselves too much, end up in pain, and become discouraged.
Everyone is different when it comes to the exercise that will suit them best. Patients should be sure to pick one that they know they will do and won’t aggravate the joints. The ideal exercise program includes three different components. The first component to include is low-to-medium impact aerobics such as swimming, biking, walking, water exercises, and elliptical trainers. The second component, strength training, involves lifting weights (1-2 pounds) or using a resistance band to build or maintain muscle mass and strength to keep joints stable. Finally, patients must not forgot flexibility exercises, which include range-of motion and stretching exercises that help reduce stiffness and maintain or improve joint and muscle flexibility to prevent injury.
If you suffer from chronic pain due to any condition or injury, find hope at The Pain Center of Arizona! Our dedicated team of board certified pain management physicians will work with you to treat your pain, increase your functionality and quality of life, and get you back into life! We have locations across Arizona, including Phoenix, Anthem, Surprise, Mesa, Gilbert, Deer Valley, Paradise Valley, Scottsdale, and now Prescott and Tucson! We take multiple insurance plans; click here to see if we take yours! To make an appointment and take the first step toward getting back into life, call us today at 1-888-PAINCENTER. We hope to see you soon!
The advice and information contained in this article is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.