Tips for Enjoying Summer Activities with RA

Patient Expert

Summer. A time to slow down, explore, and enjoy the best of what the season has to offer. Yes, even with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), you can take part in activities, whether it is with family, friends, or on your own.

Be flexible

When you live with RA, it may seem as if your world is getting smaller and smaller, except for those trips to the doctors' offices, labs, occupational therapists, physical therapists, and other health care specialists. If it's time to broaden your borders, read on for some suggestions to get you out of your home and into the world – again. Based upon your condition and energy levels, you may have to shorten the time spent participating in summer activities. Be adaptable, be aware, be flexible, and have fun

Sun protection

Keep well-hydrated; carry your water bottle with you. Sun protection is always a must, but it's especially important when you're on certain medications. That includes protective clothing, a hat and sunglasses. I always wear my sunglasses whenever I'm out, regardless of whether it's sunny, cloudy or raining. My opthamologist was quite pleased with the health of my eyes, which he attributes to this habit.

Proper foot gear

Sore feet can quickly ruin an event. Take care of those tender tootsies and be sure to wear appropriate shoes. Before setting out, and depending upon where you are going, you may want to check into the type of seating arrangements that are available. If there's nothing suitable, and you know you'll need to rest, you can bring your own, such as this one.

Fun things to do

1. Check the Events page in your local paper.

2. Festivals and outdoor concerts. If you have trouble getting down onto the ground, or onto (or off) those low chairs, check to see if there is a designated area for people who are disabled.

3. Farmer's Markets. I'd advise bringing a rolling cart if you plan on making purchases, and even if you don't plan on making any purchases, you may be tempted by the gorgeous selection of fruit and vegetables.

4. Go to a play. It's become my summer tradition to attend a play hosted by Peninsula Productions. This year, it's a stage adaptation of Hitchcock's 39 Steps.

5. Parks. Challenge yourself to visit every park in your area. Some parks run Shakespeare in the Park, so you could do #4 and #5 in one outing!

6. Art Sculptures. Many cities have commissioned works of art for their streets. Have you seen them all?

7. Be a tourist in your town. Even if you're not expecting visitors, pretend you are. Where would you take them? Then go!

8. Learn to swim/play tennis/windsurf/sail/lawn bowl.... In the first few decades of my disease, I did many of those activities and more. A diagnosis doesn't mean an end to the activities you love, once your disease is well-managed.

9. Take a college or university course. Especially, if you can't stand the heat and there's air conditioning. If you don't want the heavy course work, consider auditing the course. When you audit the course, you don't receive a grade or a mark. Tuition is considerably less, and in some cases, if you are over a certain age, you may be able to audit the course for free.

10. Watch the sunrise/sunset/stars.

11. Pack a picnic.

12. Go to a drive-in, or make your own in the backyard.

13. Sit and read in your garden. If you don't have one, make your way to your neighborhood green space.

14. Take a drive in the country. I dare you to turn off your GPS!

15. Photography. Decide upon a theme and see what you can capture with your camera.

16. Engage the local kids in a game. Catch, Tag, Bocce Ball. If you're of a certain age, teach them some of the games you used to play at recess.

17. Cloud Spotting. If you're able to do so, lie down on the grass and see what shapes you find in the clouds. Invite your children and grand-children to participate in this “old-time activity”.

18. Unplug. Have you become addicted to your technology? Declare a technology-free day, or if that is too much of a jump, start small, and work your way up to a full day. It's especially important to notice how you feel after you've gotten over the jitters from not being connected.

19. Make real lemonade or iced-tea. Real ingredients. Real taste. Refreshing.

20. Visit yard sales. Check out Pinterest for some ideas of things you can make from other people's junk, err, I mean treasures!

21. Find an outdoor exercise class. How about an early morning T'ai Chi, yoga, or water fitness class?

22. Start a neighborhood La Passeggiata. The Italian tradition of an evening stroll where you get to meet the neighbors, enjoy the cooler air, and get a little exercise.

23. Organize a Games Night – outdoors.

24. Attend a Show and Shine. A display of old cars and owners – the cars are old, not necessarily the owners.

25. Visit a country fair.

26. Have a siesta.

27. Volunteer.

28. Go for a bike ride. Invite some friends and family members to join you and start your own bike club!

29. Hang a Gone Fishin' sign. Then go fishing, or learn to fish.

30. Face your fear. Is there something you'd like to do, but are afraid of doing? Perhaps it's swimming, which is an excellent non-weight bearing exercise for anyone with one of the many forms of arthritis. (Being respectful of your particular health situation, of course.)

Can you add to this list?

See More Helpful Articles:

Rheumatoid Arthritis and Eye Health: Complications to Watch Out For
Tips to Get You in the Swim When You Have RA
Rheumatoid Arthritis and Your Yoga Practice
How to Create a Summer Skincare Survival Kit

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