Autoimmune disorders occur when the body mistakenly attacks specific body parts. This happens when the body is unable to distinguish healthy from abnormal cells and then sends antibodies to specific tissues to destroy them.
There are many types of autoimmune disorders. One of these is Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). Like many autoimmune disorders, the cause of Rheumatoid Arthritis is unknown.
Unlike osteoarthritis, which is often caused by aging, RA can occur at any age. Studies revealed that women are at greater risk of having the disease than men.
Symptoms of the disease include morning stiffness which usually last more than an hour, fatigue, and joint pain. RA can occur at any part of the body commonly at the joints of our wrists, fingers, knees, hips and ankles.
Once you acquired the disorder, it’s going to be there your entire lifetime. Symptoms may not always be present, but recurrence is always a guarantee.
Thus, lifelong treatment, therapy and even surgeries must be expected if you want to control and slow down the destruction of your joints and prevent deformities.
While it is recommended that you take medications for your RA, doing regular exercise can greatly improve the symptoms of the disease. However, studies say most people affected with RA don’t exercise.
Joint pain often restricts them from using their joints. As a result, unused joints affect its range of motion which makes it weaker.
In fact, a research by Jennifer K. Cooney et. Al about “Benefits of Exercise in Rheumatoid Arthritis” published on 2011 stated that exercise is essential for RA patients.
Moreover, they found that high intensity exercises was more effective than low intensity exercises in terms of increasing aerobic capacity, strengthening of the muscles, joint mobility and overall physical function of the patients with RA.
Get Moving with RA: Do’s of Exercise
Work Your Heart
Exercise and increased physical activity reduces cardiovascular events especially in population with RA. Although studies have focused more of their attention to improving patients’ mobility, benefits exercise offers especially to the heart health can never be ignored.
Muscle Exercises is a Must
Loss of muscle strength is often seen in patients with RA. It can be because of less mobility and exercise, being afraid that working their joints too much can cause too much pain later.
On the contrary, RA patients must focus on strengthening their muscles as these are connected on our joints. In doing this, one can improve his physical mobility way better even if he has RA.
Wear Proper Gear
Comfort must always come first before fashion. Perhaps, a nice comfortable pair of shoes is your best companion. When you exercise, make sure you wear absorbent and well fitted exercise clothes to keep you cool.
However, if you choose biking, protect yourself by wearing a reliable helmet and padded gloves. Wearing proper attire is also a factor to consider when you exercise.
Have Regular Check-ups
Your rheumatologist is an internist specialized to diagnose musculoskeletal and systemic autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.
They are expert in assessing what best exercise regimen fits for your case as every people with RA has difference in terms of the severity of the condition. Working hand in hand with your doctor can offer a lot of benefits including proper management of the disease.
However, if there are dos, there are also don’ts when exercising. Here are some.
Don’ts of Exercise
No to Weight Bearing Exercises
It’s inappropriate for RA patients to stress their joints as this could lead to further destruction of it. Lifting and weight bearing exercise is a big no if you are an RA patient.
You can always talk to your rheumatologist to ask for advice about what exercises are good for you and your joints. Also, if you experience joint flare-ups, resting your joints and preventing further stress is a good choice.
Don’t Give Up
Don’t make way for your pain and give up exercise. Although, if you have exacerbations, slowing down on some exercises is a must to let your joints rest. But remaining idle for a long time is a no for RA. Listening to your body’s capacity is important to know what points are too much for you.
Don’t over Exercise
You are the master of your own body. Listen to it. Gradually increase the intensity of your exercise and see up to where your limits are.
Don’t push too hard. Try to relax. After all, you’re not in a body building contest. You’re doing this for your overall health.
Living a healthy lifestyle accompanied by good diet, exercise and positive outlook in life is the key to keeping yourself healthy even if certain conditions exist.
Don’t be discouraged about living your life to the fullest just because you have conditions like RA. We are living in a world with advance technology. We never know, a bright future without RA might be waiting for us. Just keep the faith!
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