A pair of knotted legs walking in front of a monochromatic park or suburban scene

The Walking Dilemma

If you have RA, or OA, or are of any active age you have heard time worn sayings like “move it or lose it”, right? When it comes to my RA, sayings like these really grate me the wrong way. People throw them around like they are the cure for everything and if I’m not abiding by oral law then obviously I’ll stay sick.

That being said, I actually believe in “move it or lose it”. I, primarily, work from home so I often sit for stretches at a time. The longer I sit the more stiff I get. I have to shake it out frequently and get in a few steps or I clench up like the tin man.

Walking for rheumatoid arthritis

Before my recent flare, I climbed pretty regularly and it helped me stay limber and flare-free. I haven’t kept up with it so I decided to walk! I know, blasphemy!! After all, I’m vehemently against treadmills or gyms of any kind.

Affie, my eldest dog, has congestive heart disease so she needs as much exercise she can tolerate. That means less time in the yard barking and more on a leash, strutting her stuff. This means someone needs to be on the end of that leash. Guess who that “someone” is? Me.

So, I get off my bottom and hit the asphalt. Even though Affie is small she walks fast and she will not amble. She hits the streets and takes off. As we got her used to walks we only went out for a block or two but quickly built her tolerance. Her exercise tolerance is even greater than it was before her heart swelled up!

Almost every doctor in any specialty will agree that exercise is a great anti-inflammatory. Hey, I have an inflammatory disease! It stands to reason that if I walk then I should have less inflammation, right?

There’s one thing I’ve noticed and has created a very fine line: my walking speed.

The walking dilemma

It’s important to note the following only makes sense when I’m well. If I am flared I have no choice but to move like a sloth or use an aid.

Through our twice daily walks I found that walking slowly is not only more painful in the moment but upsets my body later. The faster I walk, the better I feel now and then. And (of course), I wonder why.

Each dog has a unique gait based on species and body type. They walk or run at a speed that is comfortable to them. Affie has a quick-motioned, streamlined gait. Mocha trots amicably. It stands to reason that humans are the same way! (Yes, I have learned everything through observing animals). I walk fast.

Theoretically, I am supposed to move slowly, gingerly and preserve my joints but it just doesn’t feel good. I have to walk quickly. It feels better and less strenuous. I feel more balanced and agile. Am I doing damage to my joints by moving briskly (I like to think, nimbly) or am I actually doing myself a favor in the long run? It makes sense I do what’s comfortable because symptoms = RA activity while no symptoms = going strong!

Is that weird? Am I weird? Let me know in the comments if you have ever noticed anything like this before!

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