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Questions About Inflammatory Arthiritis and Exercise
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Questions About Inflammatory Arthiritis and Exercise

My wife is 45 and has been diagnosed with Inflammatory Arthiritis.  She also has Pulmonary Hypertension and Fibromyalgia.  I know that exercise is important (she needs to lose significatn weight to help her overall health), but how can you exercise for significant weight loss with these issues?  Almost seems like a "Catch 22".

Can someone help?  I am concerned for her and want to get her on the right track.
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It is difficult, especially after we women reach *cough* a certain age! I'm there now...I used to be able to lose weight by dieting and a little exercise. Once I hit menopause, though, without changing anything about my diet/exercise routine, 15 pounds glued itself to my belly and it's not going anywhere. I'm managing to maintain and not gain any more, but that's about it.

We have to do what we can, as cardio and strength training are so important as we get older. I have a recumbent stationary cycle, which allows you to sit more comfortably in a chair-like seat rather than perch on a bicycle seat. Even if the tension is set very light, a half hour to 45 minutes of light cycling will work up a sweat. Very light weights, 1, 3 and 5 lbs., doesn't sound like a lot, but it's been shown that more reps with lighter weights tone muscles and burn more calories, rather than bulking up. Resistance bands might be  good option too, so she can hook her wrist or arm through it rather than using her hands.

Swimming or water exercise is also an option. The water supports the joints, lessening the impact on the knees, hips, etc.

Chair yoga, balance ball...try a variety of things and choose what works best for her. A good rule of thumb is if an activity hurts some but the pain subsides when you stop or within a few hours, you're generally okay. If you do an activity and you still hurt the next morning, you did too much and you need to lessen the intensity and work your way up, or try a different activity.

Talk with her primary care doctor about this. Some group practices, like ProMedica, for example, may have agreements with local gyms that offer a good deal on, say one or two months of gym access, consults with trainers and nutritionists, etc. to get her started on a program that will suit her.

Take a hard look at her diet and look at where it can be made healthier. This is so hard, especially since I feel like this disease has taken so much from me, food is one of the few pleasures left! But if I'm realistic with myself, I know I can do better about eating healthier and limiting the calorie-dense processed stuff. You can help by eating the same diet alongside her so she feels you are part of a team. A good site that's free, that lets you track your food and exercise is the livestrong ******* site, the "myplate" section. I find that when I'm really diligent using this tool, the pounds start to come off. However, I'm human and fall off the wagon. :)

A full physical workup is in order, as well, to make sure there isn't an underlying issue with her blood sugar or thyroid.

Hope this helps!

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