I'm a distance runner, specifically a marathoner, and belong to or lead a few online running communities. Today, someone asked whether running is good for RA, as a friend of his has this condition.
Of course, we always recommend that a patient confer with his/her doctor, first. However, I was pleasantly surprised at how many of us who responded to the question have been living - and running distances - with RA for years. One person even responded that one of the links I posted was to her running buddy's blog, both of them living with RA and running with a third buddy who is also an RA patient. We all have a common reason for running: it keeps our joints healthy and our immune systems in check.
Other RA runner responses were inspirational, from a story about one patient's (female) doctor who runs a half marathon (13.1 miles) in well under 2 hours, to a veteran marathoner in his 60's who suffered a setback three years ago when he was diagnosed with RA and has been doing half marathons, instead. Tina Wesson, winner of "Survivor 2," also has RA and is a marathoner and triathlete.
The American College of Rheumatology says a patient must meet at least 4 of the following 7 criteria for RA:
- morning stiffness (check)
- arthritis of 3 or more joint areas (check)
- arthritis of the hand joints (check)
- symmetric arthritis
- rheumatoid nodules
- serum rheumatoid factor (check)
- radiographic changes
Plus, I have systemic lupus erythematosus, an autoimmune disease and positive environment for RA.
Now, not all RA patients should go out and train for such a grueling event as a marathon. It's hard on the body. It's hard on the mind. Most people don't like to drive 26 miles. What we who do have in common is our resolve to not give in to an otherwise debilitating condition that can leave one mangled for life.
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