Biologics and exercise

I used to do zumba 3 times a week until January of this year when, out of nowhere, I had a massive flare which resulted in Costochondritis and a swollen knee. My life literally changed overnight. I was so debilitated that exercising was really difficult and swimming seemed to make my back pain worse. Am much better now although still have ongoing pain. Nine months after my initial flare, I have just been diagnosed as having Ankylosing spondylitis and have been approved to start on Biologics. My question is, am I likely to be able to return to high impact exercise, or will I have to stick to low impact from now on? Has anyone been able to do this after starting on biologics? Thanks.

8 Replies

  • Hello Mhairi54, I was diagnosed in 2011 with RA and like you had to stop exercising for more than a year (I still regularly went for walks though that was really tough at times). In autumn 2012 I started Simponi and have been in remission since early 2013. I also take Leflunomide. I am now able to do everything I did before I got RA, incuding running, cycling and weight/strength training. So yes, it is possible to return to high impact exercise while on biologics! I once read an article about a girl with RA who ran a marathon and she was also on biologics.

    I think it probably depends on how much irreversible damage your joints aready have from the inflammation. I was lucky and only have slight erosions in my right foot and right wrist.

    Really hoping your biologic will work well for you!!

    All the best,


  • Hi marhi54 I'm on Biologics Benepali and mtx and now I'm able to do body step and other fitness classes plus I do Aqua aerobics 2 a week and go to the gym most days I've had RA since 2014 and before when I was on dmards there was no way I could do what Ido now and am able to push myself again

  • Brilliant thank you. That's exactly the response I was hoping for. Missing my zumba class so much and can't wait to start back again. Tried it once back in July but was too difficult. Would just love to have the CHOICE of going or not. Recently felt that choice has been taken away from me.

  • If you check out one of the international AS forums (kickAS or Spondylitis Association of America) there are a few people there who do a lot of exercise. I think generally the recommendation would be low impact, but there are some folk on those forums who do still do heavier exercise (including running) so they might be able to advise on how they manage it.

  • Thank you for that advice. Will check it out.

  • Claire King apparently has RA and she did Strictly Come Dancing, and that's pretty high impact! Mind you, maybe she just has a gentle non-aggressive RA.

  • I was diagnosed 3 years ago with RA. Before this I played tennis 3 or 4 times a week. I had a very sudden and aggressive onset and couldn't play for a year-18 months while we got things under control. I couldn't even lift my racket up at one point. I honestly didn't think I would manage to play again.

    I'm on a biologic now and am playing again 😊. I think as long as you don't have inflamed joints then it is ok. So it depends how well controlled you manage to get things. I also swim and walk so if joints don't feel so good at least I can still do that.

  • Hello,

    Biological treatment was a miracle for me, Enbrel meant I could walk miles with my dogs again. Am having a very difficult year now after swapping (forced due to side effects from Cyclosporine) from Cyclosporine & Enbrel to Rituximab. The RA flare has given me nerve pain in my feet and a drop foot so I can't raise my right foot. The nerve isn't giving the muscle the signal. I'm hoping things will improve and have had a 2nd infusion of Rtuximab. I kept walking every day, a little way and in pain and can walk further now and more easily. I'm back at Zumba but I have always kept it low impact, even before the RA diagnosis. It's really a case of what works for you.

    Wishing you all the very best, hopefully you'll be jumping around joyfully soon.


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