Exercise just as important for people with RA - at least! 

Exercise just as important for people with RA - at least! 

Most people are aware that exercise makes us feel better. But did you know that exercise also provides special benefits for people with RA? It can even reduce inflammation, research shows.

It can be difficult to get started with exercise, especially for those with a chronic disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, RA, which makes itself felt both physically and mentally during periods of life. Maybe the fatigue takes over, maybe it's in the middle of an ongoing relapse and you wonder if it's even good to exercise if I have a rheumatic disease? The answer is yes. Even a little training is useful and more training is even more useful. That is why we put a lot of focus on logging training in the Elsa app.

A little training is good - more is better

According to a scientific article written in the Expert Review of clinical immunology 2015, exercise has a dose-related relationship to health. This means that even minimal training has benefits as long as you are consistent and continue with it. This means that you can actually train according to your ability and daily form and that the "little" training you perform - also counts! The researchers showed that people with RA who exercised reduced their inflammatory markers during blood tests. This means that inflammation in the body simply decreased (7). It also helps to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and depression, diseases that people with rheumatic disease suffer from more often (3,7).

Exercise provided better pain control, social well-being and well-being

Research also shows the connection between physical activity and mental health. In one study, people with RA were trained for six months. The study included activities such as walking, swimming, aerobics and cycling. The end results showed physical improvements, such as developed muscle function, increased joint stability, increased endurance and physical function. In addition, the researchers saw psychological improvements in the people who participated in the study. They got better pain control and the general quality of life increased. They experienced greater well-being and a higher level of physical and social well-being. (6)

Better self-esteem and well-being

Another scientific study also shows how RA patients as a whole feel much better from exercise. The researchers examined a group of people with RA who participated in a program created by the World Health Organization's European Network. The people were allowed to carry pedometers and were prescribed 30 minutes of physical activity five times a week, of which two occasions with circle training with strength and fitness as well as group meetings to discuss motivation and change in lifestyle. The study showed that the training program changed the participants' self-image and led to improvements in their general well-being and that they felt more energetic. Participants reported that after one year in the two-year study, they were able to participate in social leisure activities with friends and families in a way that was not possible before joining the program. In addition, the participants reported positive changes in the view of exercise, where training was seen as more fun and more rewarding than before. (1)

How much should I train?

The recommendations regarding training for people with RA are the same as for everyone else. This means at least 2.5 hours of physical activity a week with at least moderate intensity. Moderate intensity means that you get an increased heart rate and respiration. Examples of activities are brisk walking, cycling, aerobics and jogging. It is simply what suits you at the moment. Remember that exercise is dose-related, do what you feel works for the day. Learn how your body responds to different types of exercise and take one step at a time! At high intensity, you do not need to train for the same length of time, at least 75 minutes per week. Exercising with moderate or high intensity can of course be combined and spread over several days of the week. And more exercise than recommended gives even better health effects. The recommendations are also to, in addition to the so-called aerobic activity, also perform muscle-strengthening physical activity, ie strength training at least twice a week (2.5).

Ask for help, tips and advice!

Talk to a physiotherapist, physiotherapist or someone else who is trained in the subject to get help putting together an exercise schedule that you can start from at the beginning. Listen to your body and test yourself. It is you who decides and you who know you and your body best!

Elsa is a CE marked medical device that is registered with the Swedish Medical Products Agency.

Elsa is currently being co-developed by designers, developers, researchers, healthcare providers and patients across Sweden. If you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to contact: hello@elsa.science 

Elsa is partly financed by SWELife, Vinnova.

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