Rheumatoid Arthritis | Special Considerations for Clients
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Rheumatoid Arthritis | Special Considerations for Clients

Vanessa M. Kercher | Apr 16, 2019

Special Considerations ACSM Fit Journal

Awareness! Special Considerations for Clients with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Key Points:

  • Recognize challenges associated with RA

  • Develop Flexible Program Needs for Clients with RA

  • Apply Strategies to Modify Exercise Programs in RA

 


How many of you know someone with rheumatoid arthritis (RA)? For those of you who do, you’ve seen first-hand that it’s more than just aches and pains in older adults! RA affects more than 1.5 million American adults. The condition can develop at any age, with instances in women being two to three times more likely than in men. Can you believe that a person with RA may have levels of systematic inflammatory agents at levels up to 100 times those of healthy adults that attack joints and other parts of the body?

Exercise specialists play a unique role in being able to help individuals learn how to identify for themselves what the best exercise dosage is to boost motivation and confidence that empower those with RA to be active!


The uncontrolled nature and rapid progression of RA is a challenge faced by many that significantly influences one’s quality of life. Naturally, anything that makes people feel stiff, in pain or fatigued impairs their ability to function physically and mentally. This does not lead to motivation to be physically active. Unfortunately, RA is a daily battle faced by many individuals that may lead to more sedentary behavior and deconditioning, along with many other health-related concerns related to physical inactivity.

Exercise participation may be a daily struggle for individuals with RA, but increasing movement, with a flexible approach and mindset may lead to them experiencing the many benefits of physical activity.

 

RA and Exercise: Flexible Program Needs

Exercise may be the medicine for RA, however, creating a fun, engaging, and safe program for individuals with RA requires health professionals to think a little differently. RA symptoms vary from day to day requiring exercise specialists to be flexible with programming rather than forcing clients to do unpleasant activities. Once clients begin to listen to their bodies and pursue activities that meet their individual needs they may overcome feelings that would have discouraged movement.

Chiarlitti and his team’s article offer practical strategies for managing RA symptoms while tailoring exercise to the needs and preferences to boost motivation and encourage long-term adherence to exercise. Most importantly, all health professionals should briefly learn more about specific challenges individuals with RA experience.

Challenges:

1.         Dealing with musculoskeletal considerations.

2.         Living with a chronic disease.

3.         The benefits of physical activity are known, but not being prescribed.

Take Aways

Exercise participation may be a daily struggle for individuals with RA, but increasing movement, with a flexible approach and mindset may lead to them experiencing the many benefits of physical activity.  Exercise specialists play a unique role in being able to help individuals learn how to identify for themselves what the best exercise dosage is to boost motivation and confidence that empower those with RA to be active!

Fit Journal March April 2019

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Featured 'FIT' Article:

Chiarlitti NA, Sirois A, Andersen RE, Bartlett SJ. EXERCISE PROGRAMMING FOR RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS: Considerations for Health Care Professionals. ACSMs Health Fit J. 2019; 23(2):19-23.(Open access)  

Author:

Vanessa Kercher PhD
Vanessa M. Kercher, Ph.D., SSC, M.Ed., BESS, specializes in the science, study, and measurement of behavior as a psychometrician at The Summit Medical Fitness Center. Dr. Kercher is responsible for the design, development, and evaluation of new and existing measures related to health behaviors for clinical and performance programs. Her research passion focuses on helping individuals optimize their physical activity experiences to promote sustainable, positive health behaviors. She serves as the digital editor of ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal®