Extensive research shows that physical activity is one of the most effective treatments for arthritis. Being active can help reduce pain and swelling and improve joint function, stamina, and quality of life. Exercise can also stall or prevent the onset of other illness and issues related to arthritis. Though it may seem logical to avoid exercise to prevent worsening arthritis symptoms, studies indicate that sedentary lifestyles often promote the progression of arthritis and other diseases.
The American College of Rheumatology recommends stretching exercises for arthritis to help reduce stiffness and increase flexibility and range of motion. The best stretches depend on the type and severity of rheumatoid arthritis an individual has. This kind of exercise typically involves gently and slowly moving the joints of the hands, elbows, and knees. To begin a stretching routine, warm up for three to five minutes by walking in place or pumping the arms while standing or sitting. Hold each stretch for 10 to 20 seconds, then release. Repeat each stretch two or three times. Consult a physical therapist to learn the best stretching exercises for specific needs.
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