First, I am not a doctor. I am not recommending any form of exercise. Before you start an exercise program please consult your doctor. On that note...
I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis about 7-10 years ago. I don't remember the exact date. After the diagnosis and after starting Methotrexate, I was able to continue an exercise. I was always warned about doing low impact exercises and lifting moderate weights...okay light weights.
I made the decision to continue running because I loved doing triathlons. My doctor would chastise me at every visit because I continued to run. He wanted me to exercise but he wanted me to lift light weights and always mentioned doing crunches.
When I started lifting heavy, I continued to feel better to the point where I discontinued my medication. I have been Methotrexate-free for 3 years. So far so good. I am not saying the two are related or that lifting heavy objects is good for everyone with RA or with any autoimmune disease. What I am saying is that you need to keep moving. You need to keep your joints active. I would also say under the supervision of an MD and a knowledgeable trainer, people should test themselves a little. Everyday health provided some exercise trends that they feel are good for people with RA. I would also say they could be good for anyone with an autoimmune disease.
When I was first diagnosed with RA, I was traumatized. Not necessarily about the condition but
what effect it would have on my running and general exercise routine. I searched the internet for articles about those who had succeeded in maintaining and actually excelled as an athlete leaving me discouraged. There were not many success stories out there. That doesn't mean they didn't exist. It meant that no one was talking.
Here is the story of Britt Johnson, someone diagnosed with RA who is a runner or as described in the article...an athlete!
You have to try, because you don’t know what’s possible.”—Britt Johnson TWEET