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Arthritis-Friendly Workouts to Keep You Moving

Buddy Up

Exercise with a friend to make it more fun. You can encourage each other to stick with it. You might find a workout buddy at an RA support group.

When you get fit with a friend or take an exercise class, don't compare yourself to anyone else. Focus on how you feel, not what the person next to you can do. Are you closer to your personal goal? Did you improve compared to what you did earlier in the week?

If you don’t feel your best, that’s OK, too. Getting moving is a victory. Ask the instructor to show you how to modify the workout to suit you better. For example, if your knees bother you, your instructor may have ways to change the workout so you use your knees less.

When Your RA Acts Up

If you have a flare, you might tell yourself that exercise will only make it worse. That’s not always true, Richardson says. It may help you feel better if you’re having a mild flare.

Water exercises are especially good since they're gentle, she says.

But you know your body best. “If you have an awful day, do less,” Wasowski says. Some days the best thing is rest.

Even during flares, if you can’t do aerobic exercise, you should try simple range-of-motion exercises. For example, open and close your fists, or bend and straighten your knees. Talk with a physical therapist to learn about range-of-motion exercises that may help you.

Soreness vs. Pain

If you’re new to exercise, expect your muscles to be tired and sore for a day or so after your workout.

But if you feel pain in your joints, you may be doing too much, or you might need to work on your technique. Stop that particular exercise, and talk to your physical therapist or a personal trainer to learn how to correct your form.

Listen your body. “Pain can be your friend,” Richardson says. “It tells you when you are overdoing it.”

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Reviewed on November 28, 2013

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