A few days ago, I reviewed the website, Reach Beyond RA, that offers resources for real life living with rheumatoid arthritis. As I noted in that prior post, HealthyWomen (HW) is a website dedicated to providing independent health information resources to women and is a national leader. HW is a nonprofit project and has long reputable history recognized by many in the media marketplace and in the health industry.
At the Bone and Joint Health Center, HW has teamed up the creators of Reach Beyond RA, to bring you a joint collaborative to help empower women with information about rheumatoid arthritis. There you will find some insightful information on managing RA, motivational tips on staying active, and information about exercises that are the best fit for RA patients.
A favorite article I came across at the Bone and Joint Health Center is titled Tips for Managing Rheumatoid Arthritis offers some great tip on juggling a busy life while living with RA. Things such as family, career, household, friends and other commitments can be especially challenging for women but when you live with a chronic condition like RA, it can also be uncomfortable, painful and interfere with your daily routine. This article offers some great information for taking an active role in managing RA symptoms while juggling all the responsibilities that life throws at you.
I also came across a Q & A section that stressed the importance of exercise towards the management of RA symptoms. The article response was medically reviewed by an expert in the field as the majority of the information on the site is. The response informs that it is important to find balance between exercise and rest. By understanding the roles that both rest and exercise present, you empower yourself to work towards control the disease. When it comes down to it, when your RA is active, rest your joints. When RA pain is manageable, exercise because being active is essential to keeping your muscles healthy and to keeping joints mobile and flexible. If you are in the pain the following day after exercising, you have overdone it. Understanding the median between exercise and rest means that you understand that overuse and under-use both cause problems so it is important to use discretion and this means you listen to your body.
Towards the end of the response to the question about exercise, a link is provided to RA exercises. This link sends you to several videos that show you RA friendly exercises. The first video, Getting off the Couch, the doctor in the video discusses exercises that offer an all body approach to dealing with exercising with RA. We are also introduced to Chaunté Smith, a RA patient, who has incorporated exercise into her management of RA. The doctor notes that it is important to find ways to adjust your routine to your RA so you can stay motivated. Here is the video below. Be sure to check out all the videos in this series. You can also go to Reach Beyond RA at to the My RA Fit Kit to customize your own exercise plan.
Another favorite section of the site for me is titled Realities of Rheumatoid Arthritis Video Series. Here you will hear from Elizabeth Battaglino Cahill, RN, the executive director of HealthyWomen, as she discusses “Managing RA: The Strong Women’s Approach,” which is an educational and inspirational program and video series. In the first video, she discusses the goal of the series and information about what the series is about. The remaining videos are available for viewing at the series page. The first of those videos is titled “RA 101.” It goes into the basics of RA introduced by several experts offering an overview of RA to include how it occurs, symptoms, and living beyond the boundaries of RA.
Being a woman in my 30s living with rheumatoid arthritis, I know all too well the limitations it poses. It has been three years since my diagnosis and I can honestly tell you that first year for me was pure torture. I had to teach myself a new way of living and I didn’t even know where to start. I felt like I had lost control of my life and I had no control of my future. As I advocate, I see this often for those in first year or so of diagnosis. After a trial and error process, experimenting with a variety of treatments, and finding what things were out of my control such as pain and weight gain, I finally found a medium in my life where I can live side by side with RA. I know the physical realities and limitations but every day I am learning that I can live beyond them. Ironically, it took me three years to get there. What I came across along my journey of trying to find normalcy is that much of the information presented to me wasn’t enough for me to live with RA. It wasn’t until I saw real people living successfully with RA that I knew that I could live successfully despite RA.
I think that it is important for all of you, women and men alike, who live with RA to learn to decipher fact from fiction. Find the right resources so that you can stay motivated. I wish that I had found a resource like HealthyWomen and Reach Beyond RA when I was first diagnosed. I had to learn about management of my disease and listening to my body all on my own and that is why I recommend sites like these. They offer a great resource for people like you and me who didn’t necessarily care about the medical information about the disease but who care about living beyond the disease.
Both these sites offer a vast amount of information about living with RA. They don’t spend a lot educating about the disease itself because most of us know more about RA than most medical doctors. Further, the creators and administrators of both these sites understand the limitations that the disease has on us. They understand the financial setbacks, the affect that RA has on your jobs, your home lives, your relationships and the fact that you need normalcy in our life. For me, it has allowed to be motivated again with being active. I had a setback earlier in the year as a result of an auto accident but I found my way back to being active despite RA. Please take an opportunity to visit the two sites and if you would like, please offer some feedback on your blogs.