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Back on track with fitness regime

Hi all,

I was able to go back to the leisure centre yesterday after a week off. I went straight into the aqua-fit class and have to say that I managed it quite well and am noticing that, despite a week off, my problematic right knee is becoming more flexible. Getting out of the pool and walking to the changing rooms is a whole other kettle of fish however.

It obviously helps to know which moves the instructor focuses on so that you can get into the exercise without wasting time trying to figure out what to do. I'm always stumped by the ones that make you do things unnaturally, like tapping head and rubbing tummy scenario. There really is no time to work it out though before she moves onto the next exercise and I generally end up randomly flinging my limbs about in the water.

Yesterday her favourite shriek was 'knees to nipples ladies, knees to nipples'. (Gentlemen, look away now if you don't want to be sick) I did try to suggest that doing it the other way around (ie; nipples to knees) would be so much easier given that gravity had a head start in that direction but she was unimpressed. - Also, what about the problem of getting passed your stomach. These things are a big issue to those of us in the know.

I can't say that I have noticed any particular changes in my shape in the short time that I have been going to exercise classes, they are pretty mild after all, but what I have noticed is that I am gradually developing more confidence in my physical self.

I think a couple of nasty falls and trips to A&E for dislocated fingers a few months ago increased my anxiety about my balance and stability and I have overcompensated since then. The resulting tension about my movement has then made me more likely to develop muscle pain and stiff joints. Just having those muscles loosened has helped to make me less 'tottering' already. I now can't wait to have my left ankle done as I feel that it is going to make such an improvement to my gait and posture that my spine and right knee will improve also.

I won't ever be able to fully return to my active self unless I become bionic as there is now permanent damage to many of my joints but I am seeing a more positive outlook already both physically and mentally. It really does pay to remain as active as possible. I am evidence that you can pick it up again after years of inactivity and that you don't need to go running on a treadmill or lifting weights - just simple movements from your chair or splashing about in the pool makes a difference.

9 Replies

Good on you girl. Glad you are feeling more confident,this disease does sap your confidence as i well know. I keep thinking about getting in the pool,but at the moment thats all it is. I wish i could go back to before i had this knee done the first time and i was a lot better than i am now. I do try to stay optomistic and hearing how well your doing has started me thinking i might just shift my bum and do something in the pool.

Well done. Love sylvi.xx


I can't recommend it enough Sylvi. Why not ask to see your rheumy physio first so that you can get some starter exercises to do on your own in the pool?

There is quite a big push from central government to attract the less fit into leisure centres so you may find that your local place has a few schemes going with lots of free taster sessions. I telephoned the centre first and spoke to one of the trainers who was happy to advise on classes and give me a week's pass.

Another lady I met (who has MS) has just arranged for a 7 day taster on the toner tables for me. Membership for this personal training and power assisted equipment would be beyond my budget but I'm happy to get 7 free days trial out of it!

I find it particularly reassuring that there are many others of my size and fitness attending the classes (and yes, cherry red and sweaty faced too). I'm sure that had I been surrounded by bronzed beauties I would never have started.


Well done to you for persevering - it is great you are feeling the benefits. You have made me feel guilty now - I started trying to do swimming a couple of times a week and then our outdoor pool started up aqaucise cllasses a couple of weeks ago - I went to the first and really enjoyed it but combination of bad weather, general business and just plain laziness has meant I haven't been back since. Hopefully your blog will inspire me to go back this week. Keep it up!



Hi Creaky,

somewhere on the 'net (I'll look it up if I can find time off from my current hectic schedule of staring into space) there's an historical account of an RA sufferer c. 1920 - written by his doctors, I think. His disease had burnt out after 20 years & his hands were possibly the only truly permanently damaged parts of him, I'm not sure. However, due to the treatment current at the time: bed rest followed by more bed rest, his limbs were fixed in a bent position and he was completely immobilised.

The doctors treating him by then were obviously quite adventurous - they decided that he would walk again & set about easing, bullying and exercising him back to an (apparently) near normal existence, gradually building up his muscles, his flexibility and balance etc. This seems to have been cutting edge stuff at the time. And he was eventually able to resume his work, I think he was a cobbler, despite his damaged hands.

Funny little story, for some reason it struck me as authentic - there's so much rubbish on the net, I know.

I'm not suggesting that you should take up shoe-making but well, you can probably see why that tale impressed me & why I'm relating it. I will try to find it and send the link.

Christina xx


Great job, Creaky (sorry, I forgot your name). I found, having been so unflexible my entire life that walking & exercise has done wonders for me. I still can't touch my toes, but I can bend so much better at the waist now & my legs don't feel so tight. I feel so free!



Thanks Christine.

I did really well in my flexercise class today as well. I really can feel the difference. I'm still a little bit like an elephant trying to do ballet but a much more bendy one now.

I actually managed to move fast enough to elevate my heart rate (a bit of aerobic work) and that's with sitting down exercise!

Forgive me everybody but I have to keep boasting about it on here because making it public and getting the lovely feedback is what keeps me focused.



Funnily enough Christina my non-shoemaking mother was diagnosed with RA when she was a young woman. She was convinced she was going to end up in a wheelchair and only had aspirin and dogged determination to keep her mobile.

Her hands were left pretty crooked and damaged but the disease burnt itself out after a few years and she went on to live a very full and active life until her mid 90's (so active she had 7 children!).

It was only at the very end of her life that she had a recurrence of rheumatic pain in her hands and feet.


That's so interesting, my friend's Dad's RA also attacked his hands primarily and then burnt out but that was after about 20 years. You don't hear much about short-lived RA do you? (Although I suppose technically speaking your mother had a whopping great remission!)

I've been trying to find that story on the internet, to no avail. Don't know why I didn't save it. It was more interesting and convincing than I've made it sound. Definitely not about RA being cured or reversed but very encouraging about the potential for strengthening even the most wasted and unused of muscles.

I lost nearly a stone quite quickly and the Rheumatologist thought most of that was muscle loss! Strange, as I wasn't exactly Mrs Muscles before The Condition took hold. But I can now keep up with the world's most dilapidated dog and can swim for as long as I used to. I reckon you'll see more and more benefits from exercising, look forward to hearing about it.

Christina x


Hi - this thread is really interesting thanks Judy - keep 'em coming please and do keep going with the swimming and fitness stuff - it will make a huge difference to your RA and to your confidence and balance etc I'm sure. And you are very funny about it too which is good for all of us of course!

As I've said on here before I work out for 30 mins on my nintendo wii fit most days - and also walk the dog for up to 5 miles a day now. Someone I met yesterday exclaimed enviously that I look years and years healthier and fitter now than I did a year ago and I can't deny it. What I feel like saying is that it's ridiculously time consuming and hard work and if you don't put the time and effort in while you're mobile - as she is - then it won't just happen. I'm an artist and seem to be working/ making less and less so giving so much time to keeping fit comes at a high price and I find the stretches etc pretty boring. BUT I'm now sufficiently paranoid that if I don't do these 30 minute work outs and walk for long enough I will seize up and the RA will start biting me again so that motivates me. Plus it's rather nice getting the odd admiring look again from the opposite sex now and then!

On the converse side I get quite anxious most days about how I'd actually know if I'd seen the RA off or not - and the thought that I might be taking these meds unnecessarily is really alarming. At least on aspirin your mum could take an overview I suppose. I asked my consultant about remission and he said that for the most part RA is for life and in his experience people who stop taking MTX get worse again - he has seen very few cases of spontaneous remission. But I still think somewhere in the back of my mind that I could be one of the very few or one of those people who can exercise their way out the other side now so I do long to dump the drugs and find out but I'm too much of a wimp to actually do it!

So my compromise is to stay on a low enough dose of MTX now that I can feel little echos of the corrosive, burning pain that I experienced so much last year - just faintly in the background and am also experiencing a lot of morning stiffness again so these things keep me grounded re the need for my meds. I'm very lucky and I do know it but it's good to be reminded and motivated to keep moving all the bleedin' time! Tilda xx


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