April 20, 2017—The fatigue that often accompanies rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can be as almost as disabling as the pain. And it can be hard to treat. That's because RA medicines don't help much to ease exhaustion.
But now a small study suggests there may be a solution to this fatigue: a pedometer. Researchers found that simply giving people with RA a pedometer to encourage walking increased their daily activity and helped them feel less tired. And that was true whether or not they were given daily step-count goals.
In contrast, the average daily steps of RA patients in the study who didn't receive pedometers declined over time and their fatigue didn't improve.
Discover more study findings by reading the abstract.
This study adds to the evidence that exercise—including something as simple as walking—can help ease RA pain. And it suggests that using a pedometer is a great motivator for being more active. But if you have RA and you're new to exercise, be sure to talk with your doctor before moving more.
You may also want to try these tips from the Arthritis Foundation, which may help you have more energy:
Eat smart. Healthy foods—such as nuts, whole grains, and fruits and veggies—help your body make the energy it needs. And be sure to start your day with breakfast. Include some protein—say, an egg or yogurt—and some healthy carbs, such as whole-grain bread or oatmeal.
Support your joints. Wearing a brace or using a cane when necessary takes stress off your joints and muscles and helps you feel less fatigued.
Stick to a sleep schedule. You'll sleep easier—even with sore joints—if you go to bed and get up at about the same time every day.
Take breaks. Listen to your body, and rest between activities. Work regular break times into your daily schedule. But unless you're sick, you shouldn't rest longer than you're active.
Check out the Arthritis health topic center for more information on arthritis and its treatments.