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Out of My Comfort Zone

It was only an offhand remark, but I was really struck by a comment my physical therapist (PT) made recently about how it’s important to periodically challenge my muscles when exercising by getting out of my comfort zone. She was suggesting some different types of aquatic exercises at the time. But I have taken it to heart and am thinking about different exercises I can do to expand my strength and balance.

I have a set of exercise routines and they are good and helpful. But my PT is right that my muscles get habituated and the only way to keep gaining strength is to challenge them. One new twist she suggested was to do rolling, like a log, on the bed. If you do it right, you get a good workout to the core muscles. It takes some back and forth, but it’s also good for exercising your system that helps with balance.

Water exercises for PT

One thing the water is really good for that is hard to get safely on land, is testing my walking and balance. I can do it on land, but I have to be very careful about falling. Water is helpful because it holds me up with buoyancy and also provides resistance. I can practice my steps, jumping (which I can’t do at all on land), and footwork to test my balance system.
When I’m not doing my aquatic exercises, I do repetitions of calisthenics and weights. One of my greatest challenges for exercise is my ankles (particularly the right!). I get joint pain quickly, which my doctor says is unproductive to aggravate. I can do more exercising in water than on land. When doing my land exercises, I do everything I can non-weight-bearing on that ankle and then will conclude with walking until I reach what I call “the ankle limit.”

Resistance exercises for RA

As a great gift, my husband recently got me a stepper machine. It is set for resistance to work your legs while stepping. The great difference about it is that I can use it while sitting! It’s similar to a recumbent bike. Unfortunately, I don’t have the joint motion to be able to bike (which is great exercise and less impactful on the joints). But this new gadget is terrific because it gives my legs some working out and has less impact on my bad ankle.

Living with rheumatoid arthritis, we have a lot of specific physical limitations we have to work around. But keeping up our strength and getting in helpful exercise is important both for joint and overall health. I know sometimes I am afraid to exercise because I don’t want to hurt my joints or risk injuring myself. One of my big fears is falling.

With some guidance from my PT and help from my husband, I have figured out a variety of exercise activities that I can practice to maintain my strength and abilities. I’m always looking for ways to expand on what I can do, to push things a little bit further out of my comfort zone.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Carla Kienast
    2 years ago

    One of the reasons I like walking outdoors rather than on a treadmill is that on sidewalks, you’re constantly walking up and down curbs, dodging around obstructions, etc. — using different muscles without ever realizing it. I’m recovering from shoulder replacement surgery (again) and while I’m very limited to what I can do at the moment, I tend to push the envelope to think of ways to modify the “allowed” exercises so I’m not just working/strengthening the same areas every day. I have the great pleasure of knowing you personally and so am aware how challenging physical exercise can be for you. This article provides some great advice for all of us! Thank you so much. (And congrats on the new stair stepper!)

  • Kelly Mack moderator author
    1 year ago

    Thanks so much Carla! I really like what you observe about walking outside. Those ‘surprise’ challenges are the best kind of exercise. 🙂 Hoping that the shoulder recovery continues smoothly! Best, Kelly

  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips moderator
    2 years ago

    I was in a water aerobics class a few years back. I was the only male and because of my fingers I no longer wear a wedding ring. I became the object of speculation followed by a the object of some flirtation. I had to stop going when one called my house to ask why I had missed a class.

    LOL Now 15 years later I might be able to go back. Of course Sheryl still has to chaperon.

  • Kelly Mack moderator author
    1 year ago

    LOL! Thanks for sharing that story Rick! Glad you have Sheryl to ‘guard’ you. 🙂 Best, Kelly

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