6 secrets of successful exercisers

Use these sart strategies to achieve your workout goals — and get better pain relief.  by Liz Neporent

The key to achieving your workout goals – and better pain relief may be simpler than you think.  Just believe in yourself, say Dutch researchers, who recently published a study on the subject in Arthritis Care and Research.  To boost your confidence, set realistic exercise goals.  “The clearer you can be about your objectives, the better chance you’ll have of reaching them,” says Eric Matteson, MD, chief of rheumatology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN.  Here, six ways to set yourself up for success:

1.  Keep an activity diary.
It’s easy to overestimate your fitness level, so Dr. Matteson advises tracking your activities for a week before starting an exercise program.

2.  Discuss your fitness goals with your doctor.
In previous studies, 87% of rheumatoid arthritis (RA)  patients have said they now the importance of goal setting but only 73% have had a meaningful conversation about it with their rheumatologist.

3.  Start Slowly.
The No. 1 mistake RA patients make?  Jumping into a program too aggressively says Dr. Matteson.  That can cause undue muscle soreness and exacerbate pain and inflammation.

4.  Warm up first.
Warming up before a workout helps raise your body temperature, increase blood flow to your muscles and lubricate joints — all of which can make exercises more comfortable.

5.  Consider zero-impact options. 
If your joint problems are so profound that even low-impact activity like walking is challenging, consider no-impact options like a stationary bicycle or elliptical trainer.

6.  Watch the weights.
Strength training can be a valuable addition to your routine, but proceed with caution.

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