The gym is where I get most of my exercise. My physical therapist helps put my routine together, so every six months I do different exercises, thus my favourite exercise changes periodically. There are exercises I can’t do because my right wrist is damaged and heavy weights are not possible because, well, I have RA (duh). A the moment my exercise routine centres around TRX belts, and I really love them. I’m able to do pull-ups, squats and planking with elevated feet. Every now and then I like to lift free weights and work with the kettle bell.
In the past I used to stick to a fixed a routine and was able to record and build on it. It helped me to monitor the progress I was making. But there were always set backs and would lose 4 to 6 weeks progress. After a while this was quite demotivating and I decided to do the workout I feel like doing when I’m at the gym. This gives me the freedom to do the exercises and the amount of repetitions that feel right for that day. I often end the workout by doing some laps in the pool and in the autumn and winter I sit in the sauna for ten minutes. This routine gets me through the Dutch winters.
Exercising makes me feel good. It makes my muscles stronger, which puts less stress on my joints. It clears my mind and energises me. When I’m in the middle of a flare, I skip the gym. Sometimes it’s tough to decide if I should push myself and go to the gym or give it a miss. If I push too much I have a horrible workout, but if I get the timing right it gives me such a boost, I’m happy I went.
I’m a firm believer that people with RA should exercise as long as you find the type of exercise that suits you and that you work together with a physical therapist. It’s not easy, in particular in the first year it’s a matter of two-steps-forward-one-step-back. But as long you commit to it, it will be beneficial.
Thank you for your time, take care of yourself and remember to keep passing the open windows.