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Another Way Exercise Helps Rheumatoid Arthritis

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A study described in Medline news seemed to give mysterious theories about strangely different body composition distribution of people with rheumatoid arthritis. What is this mysterious change? The people with the hardest time getting around had "increasing amounts of fat and decreasing amounts of lean mass (skeletal muscle) on the arms and legs."

The authors of the study theorized that the difference altered the "normal range of motion of the arms and legs" or may, "biochemically interfere with muscular function" or even "may be infiltrating the muscles." Perhaps a less mysterious conclusion can be added. Anyone with or without arthritis will have more difficulty and discomfort getting around when they have high fat and low muscle. That is called being out of shape. Being out of shape makes movement difficult. It is not a mystery. Whether being out of shape is not your fault because of a condition does not matter. If someone has arthritis, that is even more reason that they need regular healthful exercise. The study reminded that people with higher fat and lower lean (muscle) can be normal weight. You can be out of shape and too weak to comfortably support body weight at any weight, not only if you are very heavy.

The study authors write," However, since one's body composition can be altered, there is hope to reduce the amount of disability and improve the quality of life of these patients." I have been tracking the topic of this particular study for a while now. Previous studies showing that rheumatoid arthritis patients improved body composition with arthritis drugs were done by people working with and receiving salaries from the drug manufacturer. An obvious and easy way to alter body composition is simple regular fun activity:

Get started on lifestyle exercise:


See if pain comes more from ordinary bad habits than arthritis:


See if common medicines and foods work make pain or problems:


What else is exercise good for?


Regular exercise will make you able to get around more easily. You do not need exercise machines or expensive programs or therapies. Go walking, dancing, biking, or do whatever activities you love or used to love. If it's hard, remember that Olympic athletes gasp with effort. Top athletes have sore muscles the next day. Being mildly out of breath, and using muscles because of healthy exercise can be good, not bad. Use common sense starting something that will be both fun and healthy.


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About the Author


M.Ed, PhD, FAWM

Dr. Bookspan is an award-winning scientist whose goal is to make exercise easier and healthier.

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