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Beyond gentle exercise
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B4Igo posted:
After becoming less and less active before being diagnosed with RA, I gained a lot of weight which I know doesn't help my joints. I used to be very physically active, running, weight training, teaching aerobics, etc. Now, with a lot of my symptoms under control with medications, I'm trying to regain my fitness. However, all the information I see only talks about gentle exercise which I know is important to those in a lot of pain. I really want my strength and endurance back and am wondering if I can just push and train the way I used to do. Sometimes, my joints hurt a lot during and after exercise, but they don't get worse overall. So, I'm wondering if anyone else out there with RA can share their experience with more intense exercise.
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icebeastwife responded:
I have been diagnosed with RA for 15 years now. I have gained a lot of weight. When the pain is so bad, you just can't do anything. I am wanting to lose weight too. I don't have any advice because I'm in the same boat. But I wish you luck.
 
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ra250 responded:
Hi B4Igo,
I'm glad to hear you are feeling better!!! Like you I was very active before I was diagnosed with RA (diagnosed in April 2011). I was actually training for a triathlon when my symptoms started and I wrote most of them off as simple over training. My RA is in remission now and I pretty much do whatever I want to in the gym. I discussed my desire to exercise heavily with my rheumatologist and he told me to follow the age old adage of "if it hurts, don't do it." I try to stay away from things that will cause osteoarthritis down the line (ie: running) but that may just be because I absolutely hate to run and this was a good excuse . I get most of my cardio from swimming but I also train on an elliptical, bike and row machine. I just started weight lifting again 2 months ago. My advise there, start really slowly. Your muscles are deconditioned and they need time to re-adjust. I have found that a good pair of weight lifting gloves helps because it gives padding over the joints in the palm which are particularly painful when trying to lift weights. Go slowly at first and give your body time to adjust and of course, talk with your doctor first and make sure he/she doesn't have any more specific recommendations for you. I hope it goes well for you!
 
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MyVoice responded:
It is very hard but worth it to get back in shape. Try using the Royal Canadian Air Force Exercise Plans for Physical Fitness which is designed to be 10 minutes a day. You can advance as you adjust to the increased activity.

The "best" workouts out there today include what's in this book published in 1980ish and available on Amazon. I originally saw it in a magazine when I was trying to lose 60lbs of pregnancy weight. Within 6 weeks all the weight was gone but more importanly, I felt so much better both mentally and physically.

Somedays I can't do all the exercises but most of the time I can do 90% of them which is 90% more then I was doing. And if you're having a really, really good day, you can do the 10 minutes more than once a day.

Good luck, I hope your symptoms stay under control and this works for you!
 
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HawaiiMac responded:
I am surprised (but pleased) you have recovered sufficiently to now consider strenuous exercise. However, the initial key is the protection of your joints and the reduction of potential flares as you continue to build up your body. I do feel aquatic exercises, at least initially, are best, followed by walking, light lifting, etc. It truly comes down to how your body reacts, and what type of damage you may have at this point in your RA (as it is a progressive disease). Also, beware of potential cardiovascular issues that may he developed during the duration of time you were inactive. I would need more specifics before I could truly guide you through this next (positive) phase of your life and fitness level.
 
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wystan responded:
I agree with most of the other posts. I've had RA about 3-4 years'. I do Mat Pilates (learned from online guides and reading books. I have a weak ankle so I can't walk any distance.

I also lift weights (dumbbells). I do the Pilates and weight lifting with very little rest between movements so I also get an aerobic effect since my ankle precludes a number of aerobic activities.

Significantly, I am 72 years old and have learned to listen to my body. I can't emphasize this enough. I used to use 35# dumbbells 5 years ago, but my RA body and age have told me to go slow. I'm at 15# dumbbells now and don't see myself going higher for some time.
 
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B4Igo replied to icebeastwife's response:
Thanks for your well wishes - perhaps we'll both learn something helpful here.
 
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B4Igo replied to ra250's response:
Thanks, RA250,
It's encouraging to hear that others are able to exercise vigorously when in remission. It sounds like I get to be my own investigator in learning what works and what is too much. I was hoping to run again, but have found it just isn't working with my feet, knees and hips. For now, I'll run in the water.

Good idea about the padded gloves - I think the slightly sticky surface of the gloves will help with my grip as well as the cushioning.
 
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B4Igo replied to MyVoice's response:
Thanks MyVoice,

I'll check out that workout. Sounds like it works well for you! I'm going to try to remember what you said about 90% being more than not doing anything. Makes sense.
 
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B4Igo replied to HawaiiMac's response:
Thanks for your response HawaiiMac. My doctor keeps telling me the goal is to be symptom free and for me that means being able to be very active. He says I should be able to run if I want to, but I don't see anything but gentle exercise in the guidelines from ACSM, IDEA, ACE, etc. That's why I'm kind of searching for what the rest of you are finding to work.

My joints are not severely deformed - I think my RA is considered pretty moderate. Following some chest pain and slightly elevated enzymes levels I passed a stress test with flying colors, so I think the cardiovascular area is okay.

I guess it's a matter of seeing if I can do more without triggering a flare. I don't even know what does cause flares - can exercise actually do that?
 
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B4Igo replied to wystan's response:
wystan,

Thanks for responding - it's really great to hear that you are active and exercising at 72. I'm 58 and really don't want to slow down yet. I'll remember what you've said about listening to my body. That's great advice and you have inspired me.
 
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MyVoice replied to B4Igo's response:
The thing I like the best about this workout is that it starts out slow but quickly increases as it goes along. And on crummy days, you can do the easier exercises and less repitions and good days you can push yourself a little. Also, you don't need ANY equipment which can be expensive and frustrating. The most important part is that you don't give up on you. How you get to your goal isn't nearly as important as that. I've had RA for 25 years and learn something new all the time. Good luck on your journey!


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