Exercise used to be a four-letter word in my house. After two years of not being able to walk or do follow my exercise DVDs , I am really out of shape. So out of shape that even I noticed! I finally bit the bullet of reality and admitted I needed to establish some sort of exercise plan and try to stick to it.
I used to love to take long walks, especially when the weather was nice. It was so relaxing, and it was one type of exercise I actually enjoyed. I cannot walk for exercise anymore and that little setback really sent me into a tailspin. Both my Rheumatologist and my PCP have been telling me since my diagnosis that I need to swim.
The problem with swimming is this: There is no pool close to my house and I work full time. The nearest pool is 30 minutes away at the YMCA. It is located in the city where I work, but I am too tired after work to go to the Y. Another issue is trying to work around the Y's pool schedule.
Our Y does have classes sanctioned by the Arthritis Foundation. The problem is their schedule. All of these classes are scheduled at a time most people are working. Seems to me only a retired person could take advantage of these programs. Perhaps they are thinking that most of their clients are of retirement age. That would mean they have forgotten about those of us with RA who are not in that category.
I have a friend with RA who decided to take an water aerobic exercise class. She soon discovered she could not keep up with this exercise program designed for “normal” people. She shared this with me because I was thinking about taking a water aerobic exercise class that is offered after working hours. I took her advice and didn't sign up for that one!
We had a “heat wave” of sorts this year in March in the Midwest. All that early heat started me thinking about swimming again. I talked to my husband about my need for exercise and we decided to buy an above-ground pool. The one we purchased is 15 feet by 42 inches deep. The hardest part of setting up the pool was trying to find a level spot in our back yard!
The pool and the chemicals to treat the water for the summer is less costly than a membership to the YMCA for a year. Of course, I will only be able to swim until the weather turns cooler, but my RD says better to swim in the summer than not at all.
I am amazed at the exercises I can do in the pool. I read somewhere that in the water, a person only weighs 1/10th of what they weigh “on land'. I have a few flotation devices that I hold onto and kick my way around the pool. Every exercise I used to do at the gym for my lower body, I do in the pool.
My upper body is another issue. My arms are weak, and the RA and OA in my shoulders hinders my ability to exercise. I do exercise my arms in the pool, and I have found that I can play a little pool ball with my husband. Throwing the beach ball to my husband and catching it when he throws it back doesn't sound like much exercise, but it is something I can do. My view is that any exercise is better than nothing at all.
If you are interested in pool exercises, you can find them here: www.mayoclinic.com/health/water-exercise/AN01830 .
I hope everyone has a chance and plan to fit exercise into each day. Exercise does use up “spoons”, so you have to allow for that in planning your days.
I try to be in the pool at least three times a week. I am hoping to build up some strength, so that this winter I may be able to do some other type of exercise. The biggest benefit of pool exercise I have experienced is a lessening of morning stiffness, and I find that to be a wonderful thing!
I am still working on my “exercise for life” mission. Exercise is no longer a four-letter word in my house. I would welcome any ideas you may have, and would love to hear about your exercise plan. Of course, you need to check with your doctor before starting any exercise program to make sure it is a good thing for you.
Published On: June 11, 2012