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    Losing Pregnancy Weight When You've Got RA

    Shedding pregnancy pounds easier with exercise – even if you have RA.

    Post-pregnancy RA Rx continued...

    Schwarz’s exercise Rx for RA? “Aim for at least 20 minutes of cardiovascular exercise four to six times a week to prevent heart disease and burn enough calories to lose your postpartum weight,” she says. Over time, you'll want to gradually increase that 20 minutes. Try low-impact exercises such as swimming, walking, bicycling, or using an elliptical machine. “Try and move as much as possible,” says Schwarz. “Swimming is great because it makes one feel weightless. Consider taking a swim class with your baby when he or she is old enough.”

    Strength training and stretching are also important, she adds.

    “Light resistance training is necessary to maintain muscle strength which, in turn, makes stronger bones,” Schwartz says. It’s a win-win situation: Stronger muscles also help lower joint pain by better supporting your joints. Strength exercises involve working the muscle against resistance with or without weights, elastic bands, or machines. The key, says Schwartz, is "low weights and high reps." Stretching and holding different joint and muscle groups for 10 to 30 seconds each may boost flexibility. After your routine, it’s time to decompress. “Cooling down may [include] sitting and breathe deeply and coming to a steady state,” she says.

    Know Your Body

    When you have RA, it’s important to listen to your body and heed its warning signs. “There is a difference between 'I can't continue' pain and 'I feel a little uncomfortable' pain,” Schwartz says. If you are in a lot of pain, take a break. And figure out the exercise routine that works best for you. “Many people with RA have morning stiffness, so it may be better to exercise later in the day,” she says. “Know your body, work within your limits and when in doubt, ask for advice, help or feedback.”

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    Reviewed on January 12, 2011

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