Start With Your Hips
Get your joints moving and warmed up beforeyou get out of bed. Loosen your hips with this quick range-of-motion exercise. Lie on your back and roll your legs in until your knees face each other. Then roll your legs out. Repeat five times.
Loosen Your Shoulders
Wake up your upper body. Lie on your back with your arms at your sides. Lift one arm until your fingers point at the ceiling. Lower the arm to your side and raise your other arm. Repeat five times.
Tap Into the Power of Music
Put on your favorite tunes. People with arthritis and other types of long-lasting pain who listen to music for an hour a day say they hurt less and have less disability. Doctors think it may cause the brain to release natural painkillers. The type of music doesn't matter. So crank up the country, or rock out to your heart's content.
Strength training helps your muscles support your joints. It can include lifting weights or using your own body weight for resistance. A morning workout helps you burn more fat throughout the day. If you've never lifted weights before, check with your doctor first. It's also a good idea to talk to a trainer or physical therapist about how to do each move.
Stretch in the Shower
Take a long, warm shower every morning. To ease stiffness even more, do some simple stretches while the water warms your muscles and joints. Shrug your shoulders, roll your neck, and circle your wrists. If it's hard to balance, use a shower chair and stretch while seated.
Heat Up Your Clothes
Don't let your joints go cold when you step out of the shower. Run your clothes in the dryer while you're bathing, so they'll be nice and toasty when you get dressed. The warmth will ease stiffness and help get your body ready for the day's activities.
Boost Balance With Tai Chi
This traditional Chinese martial art is good for your mind and body. It's a gentle form of exercise that relieves arthritis pain and improves balance, research shows. When you do it in the morning, it may also help your focus. Contact your local Arthritis Foundation office for a tai chi program designed for people with arthritis. Sign up for a class, or get a DVD to use at home. You won't need any special equipment.
Walk With a Purpose
A morning walk is one of the best things you can do for your RA. Walking nourishes the joints and strengthens the muscles around them. It also gives you energy and helps you stay at a healthy weight. Give your walk a purpose to keep yourself motivated. Meet up with a walking buddy, bring your dog, or stride to the local coffee shop.
Use Errands for Exercise
Give this idea a try when you have too much to do to fit in a walk or workout routine. For instance, at the mall, walk down each wing of stores. (You never know what you'll find!) Pace yourself. If you tend to get tired in the afternoon, schedule your errands for early in the day.
Steer Clear of Pain
A few changes can make driving with RA more comfortable. Wear weight-lifting gloves if you have trouble gripping the steering wheel. Install a running board to help you step in and out of the driver's seat. And trade in your keys for a remote that unlocks your car and starts the engine. These small upgrades can add up to less pain and stress at the start of your day.