Exercising and arthritis

by Charlotte Martin

How can I resist walking this little beauty every day?!

Hey everybody, and welcome to my little corner on Arthur’s Place.

This week I wanted to write about something that I struggle with, and have struggled with since I was first diagnosed with arthritis when I was a child: fitness and exercise.

Since I was first diagnosed with arthritis at 14 months old, exercising has been one of the most difficult things for me to take control of. I find it’s a bit of a vicious circle – I can’t exercise because I’m in pain, but if I don’t that means I gain weight, which can put pressure on my joints and make me twice as achey. When I throw steroids into the mix, it feels like I don’t have a chance in hell of fighting it.

I have fluctuated with my weight since I was a child, and have always been self-conscious of it. I was bullied for it at school, but I was in so much pain I couldn’t bring myself to exercise when I was just struggling to get dressed in the morning, or even get out of bed.

I have been on and off steroids all through my life and they made me gain weight like CRAZY; I mean like two stones heavier crazy. It made me so depressed and self-conscious. I still struggle with weight as I have now been diagnosed with fibromyalgia which is all over body pain and extreme fatigue, so finding the energy to exercise is hard.

I try and eat as healthily as I can, but still it’s hard as I am sitting down most of the day as I am a university student. I have recently researched and found ways of getting round my limitations to do the best I can, and try and get a bit healthier and fitter to be in the best position I can.

Now this might sound weird but one of the most amazing things I have found, which not only tones my body but also increases my bone density, is a Vibropower plate, which had been recommended to me by my rheumy. It’s not going to give massive amounts of weight loss but I had been advised that it may have other benefits, such as:

  • increased muscle power and strength
  • improved circulation
  • muscle warm-up and recovery
  • improved body composition (that means less fat and more muscle!)
  • increased posture
  • improved bone density
  • balance and flexibility
  • massage and relaxation.

With all of these taken into consideration I have definitely noticed a difference in my bone density. Doing this every day for 10 minutes I have gone from having osteoporosis and being on fairly harsh medication to being taken off all osteo meds within a year. I have connected the two things together, though this is just my opinion. So, just based on that alone I will continue using it.

Not only that, I have noticed my balance and stamina have increased as well. This means I can now do other exercises for slightly longer than I used to without getting worn out.

I would say that they aren’t cheap, as I am a student and have next to no spare money! I bought mine on eBay from a seller that sells customer returns for less than half price. Mine works fine, so if you can’t afford a new one try looking on either eBay or Gumtree.

There’s also walking or swimming which I try to do as often as I can. I have a little dog who doesn’t need much exercise, but I try to go out and walk her at least once a day round my local village or on the beach; even though she protests and sits down most of the time!

I have also invested in a small fold-top exercise bike. Due to the fact that it’s low impact and my ankles are knackered, I do this when I have a little more energy and am not as achey. Again, as all my joints in my legs hurt with most exercises, I tend to only do as much as I can and stop when I start to click or feel pain in any area.

Having said all this, I am still struggling with weight loss to this day. After I left school I lost nearly two stone and was the healthiest I had ever been. Then I went on steroids and put it all back on.

I am currently trying to get back to the weight I was before steroids – if not even fitter and healthier! But it’s hard; people tell you to lose weight as it will improve your arthritis but when you’re in pain you just can’t. For anyone out there who is having the same issue with exercising and arthritis, I feel for you! But, even if it takes us longer than others, it doesn’t matter. It is a struggle but we’ll get there eventually.

And if in the mean time I find anything else that has been helpful I will keep you posted!

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Arthur’s Place was able to find some independent evidence suggesting benefits of vibration plates. Find out more here and here. Please seek advice from your doctor before taking up any new form of exercise.)

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(Any opinions expressed in Charlotte’s blog are not necessarily shared by Arthur’s Place. Nothing that you read in Charlotte’s blog constitutes medical advice.)