3 Types of Physical Activity to Consider With AxSpa
Last updated: April 2023
We all know that physical activity is essential for our health. Being physically active can support our brain health, strengthen our bones, and improve our ability to do everyday activities. But for those with axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA), it can feel like yet another thing you have to deal with on top of everything else.
Because many people with axSpA have a limited range of motion, engaging in regular movement can be painful and difficult. Additionally, a lack of time or an irregular schedule often prevents people from making physical activity a part of their daily routine.
However, according to research findings, higher levels of physical activity are correlated with improved global and physical functioning independent of disease activity in patients with axSpA.1 Despite the challenges, it's worth looking into how to make physical activity a part of our lives sustainably. Thus, I'm sharing three types of physical activities you should consider during your next at-home workout.
1. Deep breathing
Breathing deeply from our stomachs rather than our chests is one of the most simple but effective things we can do for our overall health. When we take deep breaths, we activate our parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for rest and digestion functions like increasing blood flow and heart rate.2 This can help to lower our blood pressure and stress levels, which is essential for managing axSpA flare-ups. It's also a great way to get oxygen to our brains so we can think more clearly!
2. Isometric training
Isometric exercises involve contracting our muscles without moving our joints. This type of training is excellent for people with axSpA because it doesn't stress our joints or spine unnecessarily. Examples of isometric exercises include planks, wall sits, and push-ups against a countertop. Not only will this type of training help us build strength, but it can also help improve our posture over time. That said, it’s essential to listen to your body and not push yourself too hard. Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint, so start slow and build up.
3. Resistance training
Resistance training is essential because it helps us build muscle mass and bone density. For people with axSpA, resistance training is essential because it helps offset the loss of muscle mass and bone density resulting from the condition.3 Examples of resistance training exercises include bodyweight, resistance bands, and lifting weights. I intentionally mention it in that order because starting with mastering the basics of bodyweight exercises is essential before adding tools like resistance bands and weights. As one of my mentors always says, start simple and get fancy later!
These are just a few examples of the types of physical activity that can benefit people with axSpA. Remember, physical activity doesn't have to be high-intensity or put unnecessary strain on your joints to be effective. Sometimes the simplest things—like deep breathing or resistance training—can significantly affect how we feel, both physically and mentally!
Are there other forms of physical activity that you've found beneficial? Let us know below!
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