How to protect your joints during exercise, including tips on the safest exercise choices and balancing rest and activity.
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Hi, I'm Lisa Emrich; RA Patient Advocate living with rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. I'm here today to talk about tips on exercising for moderate to severe RA sufferers. First off, exercise wisely. Exercise is good for your cardiovascular health, but you do not want to sacrifice the health of your joints in the process. You must protect your joints. If you have inflamed jointsor joints which have significant damage or if you have recent joint surgery,then avoid exercise. Consult your doctor. Ask for referral to a physical therapist who works with rheumatoid arthritis patients to help guide you and help you determine what you can safely do. And your rheumatologist should be able to make recommendations of a PT or an OT in your area. Prepare for physical activity. Start slow and gently stretch your muscles and your joints before engaging in any activity. Consider starting with gently range of motion exercises. When I was first diagnosed my hands were so tight that I can only move about this far, so that was all I could safely do with my range in motion. But it did get better. Choose your exercises wisely. Avoid high impact exercises. Nothing that pounds your joints at all. Stick with swimming or walking, bicycling – those are safe choices. Try Yoga. It’s really good for stretching or flexibility. But always seek guidance on how to do it properly for your body in your situation. Respect your pain. If you're experiencing pain, then back off from what you're doing. If you're having pain two hours after your exercise session then consider eliminating the exercise that caused that pain. Learn to respect your body. Balance rest and activity. Between aerobic or strength training exercise give your body time to rest in between sessions and just really be gentle with yourself. Respect what you can do and go with your limits, but you have to have guidance to this safely. And that’s how I see it as an RA Patient Advocate. But I do recommend that you do reach out to your doctor for more details or go to Google and type in RA tips for Exercise for more information. Thanks for watching.