Is exercise possible when you have RA?

JulieLouise Member Posts: 9
edited 2. Aug 2014, 10:10 in Living with Arthritis archive
Hi everyone

I'm wondering if anyone has found a particular form of exercise helpful for RA? This is apart from walking and swimming. I'd love to go back to doing exercise such as Zumba or netball but not sure if it'll be possible. :(

Any thoughts?

Thank you! :)


  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 27,730
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Exercise is not just possible but essential I've found but it has to be the right kind. The right kind for you will depend on which joints are affected. A physio could probably advise you. Arthritis Care does a general booklet on exercise I'd have thought netball would be very destructive of arthritic knees. I know nothing about zumba. I did riding for the disabled for several years. That's very good for core muscles and other bits too.
    If at first you don't succeed, then skydiving definitely isn't for you.
    Steven Wright
  • LignumVitae
    LignumVitae Member Posts: 1,972
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    I find that if you are careful and pick your moment you can have a go at things and find out what your limits are. Anything high intensity is possibly best avoided but cycling may be an option depending on hands and wrists. I've never done Zumba but you could always go along and sit out either the more energetic bits or do some, have a break and do some more. Tai chi and yoga or pilates might also be the kind of things you can do parts of a class and sit out the bits which are a problem for you. As Sticky says though, exercise is really important so find something you enjoy and have a go.
    Hey little fighter, things will get brighter
  • applerose
    applerose Member Posts: 3,621
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    I used to run half marathons but gave up 5 years ago as my knees and feet were very painful and I was diagnosed with RA. When I saw my current rheumie 3 years ago, he told me I should continue running and he had a patient who regularly runs marathons. I tried but it was too painful. I did use a WII to exercise with and sometimes do the running on the spot. I also have a running machine which I adjust depending on how I feel. I work as a housekeeper so do lots of stretching up and walking up and down stairs. I definitely feel the difference when I don't do some exercise.

    My rheumie also told me to listen to my body. If I felt I could exercise, I should. If I felt I couldn't, I should rest. Guess it depends on what each of us feels capable of doing. I do sometimes feel I have to push myself but need to be careful not to do too much.
  • elnafinn
    elnafinn Member Posts: 7,412
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi JulieLouise

    I have OA but I thought this was quite a good link to have a look at to help you decide what you may be capable of doing depending on the severity of your RA and how your health is generally.

    Elna x
    The happiest people don't have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything.

    If you can lay down at night knowing in your heart that you made someone's day just a little bit better, you know you had a good day.
  • JulieLouise
    JulieLouise Member Posts: 9
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Thanks everyone that's all really helpful. I'm not sure if netball will be too much but I'll give it a go and see how I feel. I have no intention on playing matches so hopefully playing and resting at the same time over the course of a few hours a week will be ok.

    I do as much walking as I can. I do need to go swimming more often though.

    It's interesting to see how different we all are and what works for some doesn't necessarily work for others. I'm also amazed by how advice from Rheumys seems to differ so much. When I asked mine about exercise she just said do whatever you can which didn't really help that much!
  • dreamdaisy
    dreamdaisy Member Posts: 31,520
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    I wonder if it's time for you to redefine your definition of exercise? :wink: I run through my warm-up stuff when I have to wake up (as opposed to when I do) and that mean various muscular clenching-release-stretch manoeuvres. The same are repeated throughout the day but I guess your situation is different to mine. I used to dance, walk, play tennis . . . . .

    Rheumatologists are as individual as us but I have yet to meet one who has an auto-immune arthritis. They live with the theory. We don't. DD
    Have you got the despatches? No, I always walk like this. Eddie Braben
  • AmandaJones
    AmandaJones Bots Posts: 36
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00

    I have hip OA and I am doing stretching and strengthening exercises only when my body permits 8) . I also do aerobics as advised by my Physio, he said it can help me to increase endurance and make the muscles work more efficiently, thereby improving function :roll: . I am just limiting it currently to 10–20 minutes a day, three days a week.

    As effect varies for individual, your physical therapist should guide you properly on the basis of severity of your RA. I do believe, it also depends majorly on your comfort and will power :P .

  • hileena111
    hileena111 Member Posts: 7,099
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    I do seated zumba.......I also do seated yoga.....I wouldn't get up off the floor if I got down to do any exercises :lol:
    I've got OA and have been told by my consultant to listen to my high impact exercises obviouslyl
    I also do lots of exercises at home
  • Starburst
    Starburst Member Posts: 2,546
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi JulieLouise,

    Exercise is a key factor in managing RA but what exercise is suitable will vary from person to person. There are lots of factors to be taken into consideration such as; joints affected. Every single professional has encouraged me to go swimming and while it's not my most favourite form of exercise, it is easy on my ankles, feet and knees.

    With the support of my specialist rheum physio, I am now able to use the seated bicycle, treadmill and crosstrainer at the gym. This is despite being a walking stick user and having quite poor mobility due to joint damage, so it is possible. I will never be doing the 5k marathon programme on the treadmill but I am keeping my joints moving, improving my fitness levels and keeping my muscles strong. I try to look at it as my physio programme - part and parcel of long term management of my RA.

    Best of luck!