Exercise or not?

I'm a 75 year old man and this is my first post. I've had RA for three years and been treating myself with paracetamol 1000mgs daily. All was going well until two weeks ago when I began having regular flare-ups. I'm just wondering, should one continue exercising during flare-ups or give it a rest until they've disappeared? I am under a consultant but am not due to see him for 3 months.

13 Replies

  • Verydefinitely, yes you should.Your muscles support the joints so need to be strong. Avoid impact-exercises like running/jumping because the cartilage lining your joints will be more fragile and more proneto wear and tear so cycling/swimming/steady gym work, tai-chi, pilates perhaps but probably not running unless on very soft ground. with thick rubbery soles. Normal precautions apply, eg heart and lungs should be okay and no fever etc. I have returned to competitive cycling despite my diagnosis.

  • Thanks hawker955. The general idea seems to be continue exercising but taken it gently and stop if in pain.

  • I think the simple answer is probably 'YES!'. However when joints are flaring you don't want to put extra pressure or strain on them so it's probably about striking a balance between keeping moving and overdoing it. The joints the flare up is affecting do need a bit of looking after but if you over-protect them the soft tissues start to waste which in turn leaves the joints more vulnerable to RA. It's a case of 'use it or lose it'. Plus of course exercise has a positive effect on the body and the mind in general.

    I think you'll probably just know what is and what is not a good idea but if you're very unsure could you phone the rheumy dept. for some advice from a nurse perhaps?

    There are some forms of exercise which are particularly hard on certain joints, for example twisting movements of the knees playing football or swimming breaststroke, which are best avoided even when the disease is behaving itself.

  • Thank postle2, I'm grateful for your advice. Alexander6

  • Just wondering, what sort of exercise are you considering? Increasingly doctors are emphasising that exercise is in a sense a form of treatment for inflammatory arthritis, alongside the meds and a good diet. I think we all know intuitively that exercise is 'good for us' but I think there's a whole science around it, the detail of which is beyond me, but I get the gist and it's extremely encouraging. Exercise definitely helps me on so many levels.

  • Every morning I do about 20 minutes of light exercises, stretching mostly. I also use the stretching elastic bands that most physio. departments recommend nowadays. As you know these come in various resistances denoted by colour. I find the red ones easy to use as the resistance is not too great.

  • I'm flating at the moment. To be honest, I'm too exhausted to do my usual five miles a day walking. I think you just have to do as much as you can without total wipe out.

    I guess at the moment I'm only doing 2 miles with lots of rest. Frustrating!

  • Nettac, 2 miles while flaring is pretty impressive! If you're a 5-miler by nature then 2 miles may seem sad to you. But I'd be pretty damn sure that 2 miles with lots of rest really is perfect from a disease management point of view.

  • Thanks Postle2

    Yes it feels awful to me. Like walking in sludge...jolly hard walk. Sadly this is all I can do, then I come home and sleep. It's particularly upsetting since I'm supposed to be doing a charity walk next weekend.

    You take it easy.

  • I recall walking like that too. It really is depressing I know. Good luck with the flare, hope it ups and goes soon. But I still maintain you are probably doing your bit to see it off every time you trudge through the sludge, just soooo hard to see it that way at the time.

    I am taking it easy, possibly too easy. My little dog died a few weeks back and I haven't felt like walking on my own since then. Despite everything I say about exercise! Must take my own medicine & quick!

  • Oh so sorry to hear about your wee dog. I have a collie, if I didn't have him I'm sure I wouldn't bother walking as much as I do.

  • You may want to see a rheumatogist as soon as you can, flare ups can lasts a long time.

  • I think you're right Sweetpolly2016. I do have an appointment next month. Thanks for your advice.

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