Do you have rheumatoid arthritis? I was just diagnosed in early 2016 and I am still learning how to manage the disease. Most people confuse rheumatoid arthritis with osteoarthritis which tends to affect older folks or people who have had major injuries to certain joints. Rheumatoid arthritis causes your body to attack the joints in your body and it usually starts in the smaller joints first. They don’t know what triggers RA. However, I can think of a number of possibilities that could have triggered it over there years. But it would be a guessing game. My rheumatologist told me that it was super important for me to exercise and try to lose the weight. Today, I wanted to share with you the reasons why I go walking in order to stay moving when I am not in excruciating pain.
Easy on my Joints
Walking is easy on my joints and it is something that I can do even if I have to use a cane or walker in the future. Before I set off on my own, I spent several weeks in physical therapy so that I was strong enough to be able to handle exercising on my own. If you have RA and are currently living a sedentary lifestyle, I highly suggest that you talk to your doctor and get the help from a physical therapist so that you don’t hurt yourself.
Keeps my Joints Moving
It is important for me to keep my joints moving and healthy as possible. I do have to listen to my body and rest if I am unable to move without extreme pain. As most of you already know, I suffer from chronic pain in several of my joints including my hip which makes it hard to walk some days. While other days, I can push past it. Carrie DeVries shares on Arthritis-Health, that movement helps nourish the joint and keep the muscles around the joint strong and limber. I always try to aim to walk for 30 minutes at a time.
Helps Control my Pain
A year ago, my physical therapist told me to continue to walk and do the strength training exercises that he taught me how to do. He said it will help you to be able to manage some of your chronic pain symptoms. Have you ever heard of the term runners high? As we exercise, our brain releases chemicals that help relieve pain naturally. When I walk, I get this natural high and it helps manage my break through pain for a short period of time.
Walking burns calories to help me achieve my weight loss goals. Every since I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in 2014, I have packed on the pounds and decided to lose weight almost a year ago. Even after a 4-month hiatus, I have been able to maintain my 40-pound weight loss. I just wanted to share that you can actually lose weight from walking for 30 minutes several times a week.
Prevent Type 2 Diabetes or Other Metabolic Disorders
Did you know that type 2 diabetes usually goes undetected unless patients go to the doctor with these symptoms: increased urination, excessive thirst, rapid weight loss (ie 15 to 20 lbs in a few months), excessive hunger pangs, new or weird skin problems, cuts that are healing too slowly, frequent yeast infections, usual fatigue despite getting enough sleep, increased irritability, blurry vision or floaters in the eye (eye doctors usually find diabetes before your regular physician), tingling or numbness. If you have any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor so that they can order a simple blood test to determine if you have problems with your blood sugar.
A metabolic disorder can happen when you meet a combination of factors including:
- Extra weight especially around your midsection
If you already have diabetes or a metabolic disorder, regular exercise can help control your blood sugar.
Keeps my Bones Healthy
The older you get the more important it is for you to protect your bones, joints, and muscles. Physical activity helps keep your body moving so that you can continue to do your day to day activities. As you age, the density of your bones changes but staying active helps slow this process down.
Hip fractures are fairly common in older adults and it can be a life-altering injury. Regular exercise when you are younger can lower your risk for hip injuries later in life. Plus, it is important for me to stay active in order to prevent falls.
Helps me Manage my Depression
I have struggled with depression on and off throughout my adult life. When it rears its ugly head, I usually reach out for help immediately. Untreated depression isn’t healthy and it can lead to risky behaviors. Depression is a mental illness and it should be treated just like when you get sick. When you are sick, you typically go to the doctor so that you can get to feeling better. Medication isn’t a magic pill that fixes your depression instantly. It is simply a tool to help balance the chemicals in your brain. I walk because it is another tool in my toolbox to help me fight off my depression. As you are walking, your brain releases natural painkilling endorphins to the body. The endorphins help lift your mood. Like I already mentioned, walking isn’t a cure either but it is a tool that I use. Plus, it gets me out of the house too.
Helps with my Daily Activities
When I wasn’t walking, doing simple things like doing laundry or running simple errands would make me feel as if I had just run a marathon. These daily activities shouldn’t tire me out. I still have to pace myself when I doing errands but I have more stamina than when I was living a sedentary lifestyle. I also listen to my body and rest when I need too.
My life turned upside down when I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in May of 2016. However, things all started making more sense. I have been dealing with chronic pain in my back since 2009 but that is another story for another day. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that attacks your joints and causes severe pain, swelling, and inflammation. Thankfully, there are biologics and other medications to help slow the progression of the disease and help people live longer. When I received my diagnosis, I was still in physical therapy and my therapist told me that I needed to walk on a regular basis for the reasons that I mentioned above. I wanted to share my story in hopes of helping others who have rheumatoid arthritis.