Did You Know…
May is Arthritis Awareness Month. Approximately 350 million people worldwide have arthritis. In the UK there are around 10 million people living with the disease. Around 15,000 of these are children. Yes, children get arthritis too!
Please note – I am not a medical professional. This post is written based on my own experiences and research. If in doubt about anything, or if you need specific questions answering about your own condition, please see your doctor.
I have recently seen lots of posts across the social media support groups I am in about exercising when you have arthritis. These posts often have a variety of different reasons for looking into this – some people want to lose weight, some want to improve their general fitness, some want to exercise to help their mental health and some have read about the benefits exercise can have on the body when you have arthritis. Yes, for a disease that causes pain and difficulty in being mobile, exercise is actually a great from of therapy for it!
I think being diagnosed as a child was lucky in many respects. Sounds strange I know, but bear with me! My team pioneered the multi-team clinics when I was younger, so I would go to one appointment every month or so (depending on how my condition was behaving) and my whole team would be present – paediatrician, rheumatologist, physio, OT and normally a whole host of students. This was super beneficial as it meant everyone was there to give their input and ideas, they weren’t relying on letters and emails between each clinic and everyone, including me, had an input on my continuing care plan. It is a shame this kind of clinic is not more widespread now, as I am sure it would be more beneficial to patients and be easier for the doctors and health professionals to provide the all round, holistic care they should be aiming for. Anyway, I digress. As a child, I was automatically given weekly physio appointments and due to these, I learnt a lot about the benefits of exercise for my body and also lots of tips and tricks about what is best to try.
One of the keys to exercising with arthritis, especially when flaring, is to keep it low impact. These are exercises which improve your health and fitness while being kinder to your joints. This can include –
I recently attended the Ileostomy Association Information Event in Birmingham and was really inspired by a speech that Sarah Russell gave. Sarah is a Clinical Exercise Specialist and although she mostly talked about exercising when you have an ostomy, she did mention resistance training and I thought it would be god to highlight it in this post.
Sarah recommended that people do a form of resistance training at least once a week (preferably twice). Resistance exercises improve muscle strength which she said is vital to help us as we age. Keeping our muscles as healthy as possible will only benefit our bodies as we grow older, and hep slow the effects that our disease has on them. Again, many of this style of work out can be done at home and there are many exercise routines which you can find online.
I hope you find this post useful. If you would be interested in seeing some at home PT exercises you can do, I could make a video for my YouTube channel with some basic ones to get you started. Please let me know in the comments if you are nterested and I will film it for you! Thank you for reading and I hope this has given you a little more confidence to get started with exercising if you have arthritis,