Davidson said she "started small" and saw benefits from the exercise and her medication, like less pain in her joints. "The most important thing was that I started and stayed consistent," she says. "Now that I feel bad, I know it helps me to feel better if I move my body a little."
Listen to your body.
Linda Luckmann, who identifies herself on Instagram as a "warrior for rheumatoid arthritis", discovered after her diagnosis that she loves Zumba and goes for long walks. "It hurts sometimes – my joints don't feel good – but when I'm active, I definitely feel good," she says.
Luckman says being active helps control your symptoms. At the same time, she listens to her body when she needs to have a day off.
Still, Luckmann says there are a few days when she needs to rest. "I need to know how much energy I can spend on things every day because you don't want to empty yourself completely," she says, pointing out that she's still not painless. "There is discomfort every day, but you get used to it somehow and learn to appreciate the days when you feel less shitty," she says.
Train where you feel comfortable.
Davidson says that she does all of her weight training at home because she feels more comfortable and motivated when she has privacy. "My balance is upset and I have to break things up," she says.
Be open to new exercises.
Mariah Zebrowski Leach, a chronic disease lawyer who runs a blog about her life with RA called From This Point. Forward. Played college water polo when she was diagnosed with RA for the first time. She finally had to leave the team after her symptoms – which included pain, swollen joints, and low energy – became too much. Now she has found different ways to stay active.
CONTINUE READING: Here's what women of all ages should know about arthritis
"Living with RA actually encouraged me to try things that I might not otherwise have done," she says. Leach's husband went on an 844-kilometer bike tour that inspired her to start cycling. "I've never been on a road bike before, but I bought one and started riding it," she said. In the end, she did the same 844-kilometer bike tour as her husband. "It's funny for me that one of the greatest sporting achievements in my life has happened because of my RA diagnosis," she says.
Try to find activity in everyday life.
Leach now has three children and says that she stays mostly active by walking and cycling with them. "I carried my third baby [in a baby carrier] many times when I tried to keep up with her very active brothers," she says, noting that this has helped relieve her hands and wrists, and her core to strengthen.
Leach takes a moment to enjoy the scenery during a family hike.
If your doctor gives you the okay, don't be afraid of exercise.
Leach was a snowboarder before she had RA, and says she quit the sport for five years after being diagnosed. "Even when we found an effective treatment plan, I was afraid to get back on my snowboard for a long time because I was worried about harming myself," she says. "It was a few years before I understood my new body well enough to try snowboarding again."
Now Leach says that "she's snowboarding at a very different pace than before" and adds: "It's more about getting out on the beautiful mountain and enjoying a few runs and fresh air than shredding or doubling all day to make black diamonds. "
Regular activities can help fight symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, but everyone is different. If you are experiencing RA symptoms, contact your doctor. You should be able to provide personalized instructions to help.
This article was originally published on www.womenshealthmag.com