Video Q & A:

Exercise

Question:

Are there exercises I should avoid if I have RA?

Expert:   Kenya Beard , ACNP-BC, Hunter College »

Some exercises will do more harm than good to your joints. Learn about the don'ts when it comes to rheumatoid arthritis fitness.

Transcript: DON’T let your rheumatoid arthritis keep you out of the gym, but DO make sure you’re not doing exercises to make your RA WORSE. LOW impact exercises, such as stretching, walking or swimming, are the BEST for people with rheumatoid arthritis. You’ll want to AVOID any high-impact exercises that put too much stress or pressure on your joints, such as tennis, martial arts, basketball or distance running. Recreational RUNNING might still be OK, but you’ll have to sit out on training for any 10K’s or marathons – they involve too much stress and pounding on your joints in the long run. And, if your rheumatoid arthritis is active in your KNEES, ankles and/or hips, you’ll have to be EXTRA cautious. The strain of running could be too hard on already-weakened joints. If your rheumatoid arthritis is limited to your hands, wrists and elbows, running shouldn’t pose a problem, but take FREQUENT breaks and stick to gentler exercise if you’re coping with a flare. STRENGTHENING exercises, SUCH AS weight lifting, should be a key facet of your fitness regimen because they will help build up muscle. STRONG muscles help reduce the stress placed on a painful joint. But don’t overdo it – and that can be tricky. So start light and slow. Do multiple reps instead of straining to do a few heavy lifts. And remember the point is not to sculpt the body – it’s to protect your joints from pain by making surrounding muscles stronger. The American College of Rheumatology recommends one set of 8 to 10 exercises for all major muscle groups of your body, 2 to 3 times a week. Exercise is VITAL for people with rheumatoid arthritis, but try NOT to push yourself too hard. Overextending yourself can counteract the benefits of physical activity. To learn more about rheumatoid arthritis relief, play different videos in this series. More »

Can't Find an Answer? Send us your question »