Rheumatoid Arthritis:7 Essential Everyday Exercises to Manage Pain

With RA, it’s important to move

If you have rheumatoid arthritis (RA), you know that exercise is good for you. But finding the time, energy, and motivation to actually get moving can be difficult. This is especially true when you’re in pain.

But research shows that RA patients who exercise have less pain than other RA patients. Exercise can help boost your mood, improve joint function, and prevent muscle wasting and weakness.

Here are seven exercises specifically for RA patients.

Water exercise

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with RA show greater improvements in health after participating in hydrotherapy—exercising in warm water—than with other activities. Studies show that people with RA who participated in hydrotherapy had less pain and joint tenderness. Hydrotherapy also improved their mood and overall well-being.

Water-based exercises, like swimming and water aerobics, also improve the use of affected joints and decrease pain.

Tai chi

Tai chi (sometimes called “moving meditation”) is a traditional Chinese martial art that combines slow and gentle movements with mental focus. This exercise improves muscle function and stiffness and reduces pain and stress levels in patients with RA. Participants in one studyreported feeling better after practicing tai chi and had an overall brighter outlook on life.

You can purchase DVDs to help you get started, or go to a class in your area.


If you have RA, getting your heart pumping is essential. This is because those with RA are at a higher risk for cardiovascular diseases and complications. Biking is an excellent, low-impact exercise that’s easier on the joints than other aerobic exercises.

Biking helps maintain cardiovascular health, increases leg strength, and reduces morning stiffness. You can bike outside, join a cycling group, or use a stationary bike at the gym or in your home.


A walk in the park may sound too simple, but it’s one of the easiest and most convenient forms of exercise. In addition to getting your heart rate up, walking can loosen your joints and help reduce pain. Research has found that just 30 minutes of walking a day can boost your mood, too.

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