Years ago, doctors hardly ever told arthritis patients to “go take a hike” or “go for a swim.” Arthritis was considered an inherent part of the aging process and a signal to a patient that it’s time to slow down. But not so anymore, recent research and clinical findings show that there is much more to life for arthritis patients than the traditional recommendation of bed rest and drug therapy.
Exercise is critical in successful arthritis management. It helps maintain healthy and strong muscles, joint mobility, flexibility, endurance, and helps control weight. Rest, on the other hand, helps to decrease active joint inflammation, pain, and fatigue. For best results, arthritis patients need a good balance between the two: more rest during the active phase of arthritis, and more exercise during remission. During acute systematic flares or local joint flares, patients should put joints gently through their full range of motion once a day, with periods of rest. To see how much rest is best during flares, patients should talk to their health care providers.