Rheumatoid arthritis: Is exercise important?

Which types of exercises are best for people who have rheumatoid arthritis? Which should be avoided?

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Many people with rheumatoid arthritis tend to avoid exercise because they're afraid that the activity might worsen their joint pain. But exercise is one of the key treatments to help reduce the disability often associated with rheumatoid arthritis.

Regular exercise can boost strength and flexibility in people who have rheumatoid arthritis. Stronger muscles can better support your joints, while improved flexibility can aid joint function.

Exercise can reduce fatigue and ease depression. And better overall fitness helps prevent heart disease and diabetes, two life-shortening ailments that often accompany rheumatoid arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis also accelerates the loss of muscle mass that typically occurs as people get older. That's why it's important to do exercises that will build muscle, in addition to aerobic exercises, which strengthen your heart and lungs.

Weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, can help prevent a loss of bone density (osteoporosis), which can result from rheumatoid arthritis.

Studies indicate that exercise will not worsen rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. But if rheumatoid arthritis has severely damaged your hips or knees, you may want to choose low-impact exercises, such as swimming, water aerobics, walking or bicycling.

July 31, 2020 See more In-depth

See also

  1. 3D Printer Helps Hip
  2. 6 tips to manage rheumatoid arthritis symptoms
  3. C-reactive protein test
  4. Do infrared saunas have any health benefits?
  5. Does stress make rheumatoid arthritis worse?
  6. Ease rheumatoid arthritis pain when grocery shopping
  7. Elbow Replacement
  8. Elbow replacement surgery
  9. Fatigue
  10. Hip replacement
  11. Hip resurfacing: An alternative to conventional hip replacement?
  12. Hip Surgery Overview
  13. Hockey Coach Gets Hip
  14. How do I reduce fatigue from rheumatoid arthritis?
  15. Is depression a factor in rheumatoid arthritis?
  16. Isometric exercise
  17. Joint pain
  18. Joint pain: Rheumatoid arthritis or parvovirus?
  19. Joint replacement
  20. Knee replacement
  21. Living better with rheumatoid arthritis
  22. Mangosteen juice: Can it relieve arthritis pain?
  23. MRI
  24. Osteoporosis and long-term prednisone: What is the risk?
  25. Palindromic rheumatism: Precursor to rheumatoid arthritis?
  26. Physical therapy
  27. Prednisone risks, benefits
  28. Prednisone withdrawal: Why taper down slowly?
  29. Protect your joints while housecleaning
  30. Rethinking Rheumatoid Arthritis
  31. Rheumatoid arthritis
  32. Rheumatoid Arthritis
  33. Rheumatoid arthritis: Does pregnancy affect symptoms?
  34. Rheumatoid arthritis: Vaccines
  35. Rheumatoid arthritis diet
  36. Rheumatoid arthritis: Can it affect the eyes?
  37. Rheumatoid arthritis: Can it affect the lungs?
  38. Rheumatoid arthritis medications: Dangerous during pregnancy?
  39. Rheumatoid arthritis pain: Tips for protecting your joints
  40. Rheumatoid factor
  41. Robotic-Arm Assisted Knee Resurfacing
  42. Sed rate (erythrocyte sedimentation rate)
  43. Seeing Inside the Heart with MRI
  44. Cane tips
  45. Joint protection
  46. Smoking and rheumatoid arthritis: What's the risk?
  47. Spinal fusion
  48. Stem Cells Get Hip
  49. Symptom Checker
  50. Tai chi
  51. Tips for coping with rheumatoid arthritis
  52. Tips to make your mornings easier
  53. Ultrasound
  54. Unexplained weight loss
  55. MRI
  56. Tai chi
  57. X-ray