Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can present unique challenges for elderly individuals who wish to maintain an active lifestyle. However, staying physically active is crucial for managing RA symptoms and overall well-being. In this blog post, we’ll explore some gentle exercise ideas tailored to elderly individuals living with rheumatoid arthritis.
- Range of Motion Exercises: These exercises aim to maintain joint flexibility and reduce stiffness. Gentle stretches, wrist circles, and ankle rolls can help improve mobility.
- Tai Chi: Tai Chi is a low-impact, slow-paced martial art that focuses on balance, coordination, and gentle movements. It can help with joint flexibility and pain management.
- Aquatic Exercise: Water aerobics or swimming in a heated pool can provide buoyancy and resistance while being gentle on the joints. The warm water can also soothe RA-related discomfort.
- Chair Yoga: Yoga adapted for seated positions or with the support of a chair can improve flexibility, balance, and relaxation. It’s an excellent option for seniors with limited mobility.
- Walking: A daily walk, even for short distances, can help maintain cardiovascular health and joint function. Choose flat, even surfaces and wear supportive shoes.
- Resistance Bands: Gentle resistance band exercises can help strengthen muscles around affected joints. They offer a safe and effective way to improve strength and function.
- Hand Exercises: Finger and hand exercises using therapy putty or small objects can help maintain hand dexterity and reduce joint pain in the fingers.
- Breathing Exercises: Mindful breathing and relaxation exercises can reduce stress and promote a sense of well-being, which is essential for managing RA.
- Consult a Professional: Always consult with an Accredited Exercise Physiologist or Physiotherapist before starting any new exercise routine, especially if you have RA. They can provide personalised guidance and ensure that exercises are safe for your condition.
Remember to start slowly and progress gradually. Pay attention to your body and modify exercises as needed. By staying active, you can help manage the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, maintain joint function, and enjoy a better quality of life.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2020). Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition. https://health.gov/paguidelines/second-edition/
- Mayo Clinic. (2021). Rheumatoid arthritis. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/rheumatoid-arthritis/symptoms-causes/syc-20353648
- Arthritis Foundation. (2021). Exercise for Arthritis. https://www.arthritis.org/health-wellness/healthy-living/physical-activity
- The Gerontological Society of America. (2017). The Benefits of Physical Activity for Older Adults. https://www.geron.org/images/gsa/documents/Brochures/Physical_Activity_English_FNL.pdf