I have never been great at exercising regularly (am the least athletic in my family - goes along with me being the one with "failure to thrive" for the first 5 weeks of my life! I was also very inconsistent with general physical capacity, even way back in high school. Some days I could run around the field and love it. The next day, I'd run out of breath after 20 feet. Never could figure it out, but I was more of a 'brainy' person than physical, so I didn't worry about it. My four sisters all either did sports or dance, etc. I was the more 'musical' one (two of my sisters could not sing on key. The other two could!)
However - I always liked and needed to STRETCH, and enjoyed doing those kinds of exercise. I really liked the "Classical Stretch" program (Canadian, by the way) on early morning TV, so much that I got the video. Then, about fifteen years ago, knowing I liked to walk and swim, tried to get more regular about it. I had always had weak ankles, and the walking with a little jogging occasionalloy, led directly to foot problems, ankle braces, orthotics, and eventually surgery. (Hah! Some benefit...?) After the ankle surgery, I switched to a recumbent bike during P.T., and was fortunate enough to inherit (well, sort of) my brother-in-law's exercise bike that he wasn't using anymore. (Actually, my husband wanted to get the StarTrek set on Blu-Ray, so he gave his previous version to his brother in exchanged for the bike for me!) It was a little big for me, but worked well enough for the recovery period. Then I sloughed off.
Going back to the video: a year and a half after the diagnosis of RA, I could no longer do the whole routine, but would just do the warm-ups, and even that helped. In my pre-RA days, I used to be able to sit half-lotus; I could sit Indian style (cross-legged) or with the soles of my feet together and just about touch my forehead to them! A year after being diagnosed with RA, I couldn't even sit like that. But after a few weeks of low-cost "The Yoga of Letting Go" (a very good way to stretch and relax at the same time - taught by a local community person), I gained some hope and just started working toward it. After a month or so, things were definitely improving. I learned that I did NOT have to accept the status quo as permanent. Gradual change was possible.
Then I discovered Tai Chi, and got the Arthritis Foundation/Tai Chi Productions video - I can't say enough GOOD about that! Even when I'm dead tired, it helped me feel better. I could get up from my desk, go into the copy room (where hopefully no one would see me and think weird things) and do even a few minutes of the Tai Chi warm-ups, and that would energize me a bit.
This last year, I really pooped out on most of it. But funny thing, I am having a lot more trouble sleeping. and when all else fails (frequently, even meds won't do it now), even at 2 - 3 a.m., I will get up, do the Tai Chi routine, ride the bike for 5 mins (silently, in the dark), make a cup of green tea, and usually THEN, I can get to sleep! If not, I still feel better...