Thursday, April 15, 2010
Let's Move Together!
The Arthritis Foundation’s Central Florida Region will kick off Arthritis Awareness Month by holding the 2nd Annual Let’s Move Together Walk on May 1 in Avalon Park. (http://2010aworlando.kintera.org). This important event serves not only as a major fundraiser; it reminds us of the importance of movement for people with arthritis.
For me, exercise, including a regular walking regimen, has been a tremendously effective tool for managing pain, reducing flares, and elevating energy levels. When I was first diagnosed with RA, I would have found anyone who advised me to get moving crazy. It hurt just to stand, none-the-less walk. Pain notwithstanding, I was so tired that I couldn’t imagine mustering the energy for a jaunt around the neighborhood. Instead, I wallowed. And the more sedentary I was the stiffer and more painful my joints became. The sudden halt in activity prompted a near 20 pound weight gain. According to WebMD, an extra pound of body weight adds four pounds of joint stress across the knees. Babying my joints wasn’t reducing my pain – it was increasing it.
Sometimes the least likely option is truly the best choice. I started by taking short walks outdoors, and over time, increased my distance and pace, until I was walking five miles each day in just over an hour’s time. I started feeling well enough to venture into the world of strength training. I started feeling well enough to return to my life, as I knew it, before RA.
Exercise is not a panacea or cure for arthritis, but it is a valuable tool in managing the effects of arthritis. That’s something I can live with. Now let’s move…together!