Two of my very best friends are effected by Rheumatoid Arthritis; one directly and then one indirectly. I've had a few clients that suffer from the disease and through them I have learned quite a bit about what works and what doesn't work for their condition. So hopefully this helps shed some light on what RA is and ways in which you can work out if you suffer from it.
What is RA: It's a chronic disease that causes stiffness, pain and swelling of joints. The body's immune system starts to attack the healthy tissue which causes inflammation and pain. There is no known cause, but 70% affect women. Some think that it is possibly related to hormones, because RA can go into remission in pregnancy and then can return after you give birth.
Here are some types of exercises that are shown to help with joint pain, boost mood, build endurance and strength, and aid in weight loss:
*Low impact cardio such as walking up hill on a Treadmill, Eliptical, and Stairs.
*Strength Training (helps with joint pain) The stronger your muscles are the more support your joints will have.
*Swimming has shown to help RA patients a lot. It's very low impact and a great workout.
*Pilates is wonderful! You can work your whole body without overdeveloping certain muscle groups. Your flexibility, core strength and posture will all help to make your body stronger, leaner and pain free.
*Light weights with higher reps to help build your endurance.
*Dance type classes. Think Cardio Barre, Ballet Classes, BarWorks, Tracy Anderson, Zumba, etc.
The key is to start out slow with any new exercise program. Set some short term goals and experiment with different exercise routines to see what works for you.