Exercise can provide many benefits to people with rheumatoid arthritis, according to the National Institutes of Health. Physical activity can help you maintain joint mobility, improve your mood, and sleep better. Research shows that regular exercise can help slow down the accelerated loss of muscle mass common in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Be sure to do regular aerobic, strengthening, and stretching exercises to help your heart and improve the strength and flexibility of your muscles. Aquatic exercises, such as water aerobics, may be a particularly good choice.
A nutritious diet that provides plenty of vitamins and minerals — and contains the right amount of calories so you can stay at a healthy weight — is important when you have rheumatoid arthritis, according to the National Institutes of Health. Although it’s not proven that any particular nutrient will help, research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fatty cold-water fish like salmon, may help ease the joint pain of rheumatoid arthritis.
“A diet high in foods that are anti-inflammatory may be beneficial in dealing with RA,” says Kristi King, MPH, RDN, a senior dietitian and clinical instructor in pediatrics at the Texas Children’s Hospital, and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “An anti-inflammatory diet has plenty of green leafy veggies like spinach and kale, tomatoes, broccoli, as well as other anti-oxidant rich plant based foods such as cherries, blueberries, and strawberries. Of course, omega 3 fats are important too and these can be found in ground flax seeds, walnuts, and olive oil.”
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