Exercises to Help Manage Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a painful long-term disease. It leads to inflammation of joints and tissue, which can lead to stiffness and extreme pain. Overtime, joints may become deformed. Treatment is through medication, surgery, and physical therapy. Different exercises can help manage the effects of rheumatoid arthritis.

The key to exercises for rheumatoid arthritis is stretching the joints and keeping the muscles strong. Consult with your doctor or other medical professionals to learn the exercises right for you. The following 10 exercises are common techniques used to help manage rheumatoid arthritis.


Walking is a natural and low energy way to get active. It is a great form of cardiovascular exercise. If walking is too difficult for you, use walking sticks or a brace. Go as slow as you need to- any walking is beneficial.


Low impact yoga is a great stretching exercise for people with rheumatoid arthritis. If you choose to go to a yoga class, let your instructor know your physical limitations. Yoga can also be easily done in the comfort of your own home.

Dance Classes

Dancing is a great cardiovascular activity that includes a wide range of motion. Some community centers hold public dance classes that you can easily join. This is a fun activity that will also gain you a new skill!

Hamstring Stretch

Your hamstrings are your thigh muscles and stretching them can help increase flexibility. To do this exercise, sit on the ground with one leg straight and the other bent comfortably. Stretch your body and one arm towards your far foot.

Chest Stretch

Stretch your arm, chest, and back muscles with a simple chest stretch. Use a light resistance band and pull it from one side of your body to the other, as depicted in the picture.


Another great chest stretch exercise is the well known pushup. It works out almost the entire upper body, giving strength to joints. Rest your knees on the ground to make it easier on the upper body.


Rowing is great exercise to stretch the entire body. Most gyms have rowing equipment. Set the resistance to 0 and just go through the physical motions of the movement. This works your legs, back, and arms.

Step Ups

Use a stepping board or any low and stable surface for simple step ups. You can also use your home stairs. Take your time and step up slowly. Repeat the movement for 10-15 repetitions. This exercise helps build muscular strength and improve knee joint flexibility.

Elliptical Machine

If you still have a wide range of motion, then the elliptical machine is a great option for exercise. It is low impact and works out almost the entire body. Another great option is the recumbent bike.

Group Fitness Classes

If you have rheumatoid arthritis and have a hard time willing yourself to exercise, a great option is group fitness classes. Always let your instructor known your physical limitations before you start a class. They will be able to direct you on how to complete the movements safely.


Catherine Roberts

Catherine is our go-to writer for women’s health news, diet trends and more. She’s dedicated to providing Activebeat readers with the information they need to maintain a healthy lifestyle every day.