Exercise: Hi Everyone I would love to do some sort of... - NRAS


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amanda-dunmow profile image

Hi Everyone

I would love to do some sort of exercise and did start to do some tai chi moves, which I must get back to.

But how frustrating is it when people around you are talking about the fantastic run or miles walked or some sort of high impact class that is totally beyond our/my scope of possibility. Then some bright spark will say oh you should go swimming - they just don't understand the effort it takes to get showered and dressed in the morning to then think about doing it all again later in the day for a swim which is going to cause chronic leg pain tomorrow!

Just thought I would get that rant off my chest - sorry 😐


34 Replies

Hello Amada. For me there is only one sort that really appeals: cycling. It is non-impact as long as you don't come off. That is important for RA-joints, good for burning calories and weight loss. Tones up the important mobility-muscles to support the joints and can be very social if done in a group. What's not to like?!

t is far more interesting than swimming as well!

Good luck.

Would love to cycle but I can't put any pressure on my wrists at the moment. Hopefully biologics will help me get back to some sort of exercise.

I go to aquarobics classess. getting undressed and dressed are worth it. At the gym they have bikes you can use without putting your weight on your wrists


Totally get what you're saying Amanda! After many pre-RD years of enjoying running, gym sessions and a little swimming, now I'm down to just swimming and I'd built up to swimming a mile twice a week in my local pool. I don't have my usual morning shower at home on a swimming day but shower at the pool before and after my swim, thus saving some effort. Trouble is, I'm in a bad flare at the mo but still dragged myself to the pool last week, only to find that it felt like swimming through mud due to swollen/sore wrists/hands and, worse, it took a massive struggle and lots of swearing under my breathe to get out of my wet swimsuit afterwards! Can't contemplate swimming this week but do hope to get back to it when I'm at least back to my "normal" levels of soreness. MTX "not controlling things as well as I'd hoped" said my Rheumy, so I'm currently waiting to try a Biologic (having already failed on Sulfasalazine) and on a short course of oral steroids in the meantime. If it's any use to you, I've found the chair exercises 'for seniors' LOL (i.e. sitting down) in Hasfit videos on You Tube quite good to keep me moving at my own pace. You can choose from a variety of session times - and can press "pause" for a break if you need it, LOL

Many thanks for your suggestions. I am the same as you - sulph didn't work, mtx isn't working. Been in a flare for over a year. Now waiting for biologics. Hoping to get back to some type of sport if they work!

How long have you been on the Methotrexate? I was on Sulfasalazine for over a year. Saw no results so Rheumatologist added Methotrexate 20 mgs. Never saw improvements at all till 4 months in. Went into remission for almost 4 months now. I pray it stays.

Hello amanda-dunmow,

You are so right. It's so hard, and still it probably is one of the most important blocks in RA treatment. I feel fine if I don't move. Sitting working on the computer or reading is so very seductive since when I don't move I have no pain and feel nearly normal. If I give in to this on the otherhand I know that moving in fact will be more painful. I have come to the conclusion that I really need someone to kick me out of the chair, on regular basis. Now starting with three weeks at a spa for integrated medicine where excersize program and diet planned and supported by therapists. I am hoping that when I return home I will find a gym and a personal trainer that will follow up my excersize program once a week. Hope you find a solution soon. x Simba

Yes it is too easy to not move around, and as you say that just makes everything worse. Just need to find that happy medium!

Snap. I loved a good session at the gym. I have bought a DVD Tai Chi for Arthritis so low impact gentle moves just to keep things moving.

Mmrr profile image
Mmrr in reply to Gnarli

Loving my tai chi class

Gnarli profile image
Gnarli in reply to Mmrr

Brilliant! I'm quite jealous as there is literally nothing like that here.

I now realise how hugely insensitive I was to people before I got RA. I remember with a flush of shame one of my team members who came down with gout and I expected him to be back at work in days as I had no idea how painful it could be!

So deep breath, big smile, and say how much you would like to do X but unfortunately that amount of movement on your joints is far too painful for the moment.

Oh yes, I was a long distance walker, hill climber, nordic walker, skier and swimmer. I can do none of these activities now. It irritates the hell out of me when people see my unfit and overweight body and say ... why don't you try. 1. Swimming...arrrggghhh...cos even 2 lengths sets off my cervical spondylosis...makes me unable to move or think for days if I'm lucky, weeks if I'm unlucky.

2. Aquarobics.....seriously ??????

3. Cycle. ...arrrrggghhh....cos I have subluxating thumb's and ulnar deviation , hot hands and can't take weight on any hand/wrist joint. My knees are messed up.

I do a little tai chi and enjoy it, but need to sit out for part of the class due to fatigue, but hey I get myself there.

So, yes I'm with you and thank you for giving me the opportunity to have a rant too. Oh for the day when I find a drug that works and I can get moving again 😁 but I swear I will never suggest swimming/Aquarobics or cycling to anyone with uncontrolled RD 😉 😃😄😇 !!!

Great post! - Saw my physio today. He knows my health situation, can see the joints in my right hand are volatile and part of wrist damaged yet he stressed the importance of exercise especially resistance training. He told me loads of people with RA are leading much better lives having been persuaded to join a gym. Some cardio work, more resistance work. I was trying to explain that it's not that people don't want to exercise more the case that their pain and swelling and fatigue won't allow. He still said that unless one is having a flare, they should be in the gym strengthening muscles. He said that helps symptoms of RA. Haven't been to a gym since my health condition. Only swimming and walking when able to. I don't think I could - you won't know till you try! was his confident reply!

Good for you! Well done! Any movement is better than none! Kettle bells and other weights , squats etc etc was just so scary! He wasn't up for listening to any excuses! 😂

Mmrr profile image
Mmrr in reply to Shalf

Shalf, did your physio say free weights are okay for people with RD ?

I was seen by the specialist rheumatology physio at the WGH just yesterday who said definitely no free weights.... ever. I'm working up to hopefully going on the cycle in the gym soon, I don't then need to take the weight on my wrists with steering He also suggested the cross trainer might be useful in a while once I have my strength back, but no free weights.

My friend has seropositive RA, was a frequent gym goer and has also been told not to use free weights, machines are OK.

Shalf profile image
Shalf in reply to Mmrr

Yes, he said free weights ( low kilos to start though) maybe he was being over ambitious I don't know. But he was very confident regarding this. How interesting re the WGH as I see a Consultant there too! I'll ask on my next visit Mmrr x

Shalf profile image
Shalf in reply to Shalf

I was also referred to physio there but got somewhere nearer but the guy is a senior physio. Maybe just different circumstances?

Shalf profile image
Shalf in reply to Shalf

The physio is a Newcastle bloke. He seems to know everyone at WGH physio. Interesting conflicting info! Want to know more....

Shalf profile image
Shalf in reply to Shalf

Mmrr if you want to PM me about anything further re this , that's fine. A lot of people have Pm'd me to chat and I'm fine with that x

Love this advice, I will be saying this to myself when I need a push! Thank u for the wise words ❤️❤️

Shalf profile image
Shalf in reply to Catty1988

It's a fantastic post! Thank you Amanda! Pre RA/RD , I think everyone knew it was sensible to exercise. Now, it's a matter of knowing your own strengths. No drug however is going to increase muscle strength. It's maybe wise to explore what's right for you but muscle strength does have the power to fight what's wrong! Good luck!

Not sad at all. In fact I'd call it a good idea

i have a PT and nutritionist. He's put together a programme using resistance bands to build strength. There's one I can't do as it snaps my wrist and it feels like I've broken it. But the others work. There's lots of online videos and the bands are inexpensive.

I saw the redigitalised Lawrence of Arabia film last year in the cinema, a wonderful film. I remember the scene you describe.

Having just started Tai Chi I'm a bit consumed by it at the moment ! So forgive my little ditty to you....I find it interesting that the advice given is , if anything hurts ...stop.....follow your Chi, listen to your Chi, be in balance with your body, the instructor demonstrates how you are causing pain by incorrect posture, faulty weight transferrence and corrects it. The focus is on strength and balance through working with, rather than against your body. In the West we go for no pain , no gain, and work against the natural body rhythms, we move quickly and potentially harm ourselves (consider how many athletes have injuries). Tai Chi is about the opposite , moving slowly...much more difficult than it looks... and transferring weight to the ground, not your joints. After 4 weeks I already notice the difference and can stand on one foot, a significant achievement for me, I'm taking the weight, not in my knee joint (ouch) but in my feet.

My daughter travelled for years, a bit of a nomad, and commented that you could often identify the Britishin at length by the way they moved and walked quickly, and tried to do everything quickly ! Interesting stuff.

amanda-dunmow profile image
amanda-dunmow in reply to Mmrr

Yes, very interesting

Hey Amanda, don’t know if it’s already been suggested, but NRAS.org.uk have a series of videos on suitable exercise. They’re quite good as they cover various levels of ability, can be done at home and are quite simple, but effective.

As I found the link hard to find, here it is nras.org.uk/exercise :)

amanda-dunmow profile image
amanda-dunmow in reply to

Many thanks I'll have a look.

I know exactly what you mean I have always been active and consider myself as still young its become a bit of a shock turning into somene completely different in such a short time ive started acqua aerobics and I enjoy it but I hate the cold I couldn't go his week because not feeling well I was worried about this happening catching a cold on methotrexate from the pool sometimes you feel you are in a nightmare and one day you will wake up im going to be positive its a blip im having a lazy day on my day off build up my strength fight it back there next week. I am sure you will find something that works for you

Swimming three times a week is the answer for me. Even on a bad day, when everything seems be aching or sore, an hour in the pool and, if you can, a sauna is a tremendous help.

yes totally agree ! I am off to try swimming later this evening, had to search for a local pool with small steps into it , otherwise I would have no chance. cant do too much at the moment pain in wrists and knees....waiting on the meds to kick in - not long diagnosed.

Fingers crossed they don't have to winch me out :-)

When I was first diagnosed (5 years ago) I stopped doing all my usual exercises (I used to do long distance walking amongst other things) as it just hurt too much.

About 18 months ago I saw a physio at the hospital who gave me muscle building exercises - my hips are my biggest problem area - and also recommended Pilates.

I found a class with a great teacher. At first I couldn’t do lots of the moves but she always gave me alternatives.

I can do all of them now, I improved little by little and my core strength is heaps better.

It’s gentle exercise and such fun too. Every week I feel so happy as I can see and feel the difference.

I believe there are also chair Pilates sessions for those unable to lay on the floor.

Good luck! x

Make sure you talk to your doctor before starting any type of exercise. I am one who was walking 20k at a time. Now back to just walking my dogs. It seems no matter how painful , I must walk my girls. They keep me moving. I still do not have test results but will be more careful moving forward.

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