Desi Bartlett M.S., CPT, Fitness, Yoga & Dance Expert, Mom & Spokesperson.

Posts tagged: exercise

Arthritis and Exercise

Recently, a wonderful woman from the East Coast sent me a message asking about arthritis and exercise. I would like to share my response so that anyone suffering from RA, has additional information on exercise and fitness. Here are my recommendations;

1.) get Dr.’s permission to exercise

2.) once your Dr clears you to exercise, please check out

3.) avoid high impact exercise

4.) in my experience there are good days and bad days with RA. Some people are sensitive to humidity and notice symptoms flare. Please listen to your body and when your symptoms flare, take a day off.

5.) exercise in a cool room whenever possible

6.) The lightweights you have are a great place to start. There’s no need to lift heavyweights with RA.

7.) the CDC recommends that everyone can break up their exercise throughout the day. I really like this approach for RA. As always, check with your Dr., and consider doing just the weight training section of my DVD in the AM, and just the flexibility in the PM. The next day, do just the cardio. You can cycle exercise that way, and let your body adapt to training again with RA.

8.) if you ever have access to a pool, even if it’s only on vacation, you don’t have to swim to benefit from training in the pool. Walking forwards, backwards and sideways gives you a fantastic workout with little weight on your joints.

9.) Please check with ACE (American council for exercise), as they will have local recommendations for trainers who work with RA. If that does not pan out, please ask your rheumatologist for a prescription to see a physical therapist. Many times insurance will cover part of this work, and the PT can assess the level of pain in each joint, so as to prescribe the correct exercise.

10.) Make sure that you have good, supportive athletic shoes (nothing more than 2 years old).

Please call your Dr., get clearance to exercise, start with my DVDs, and then get a Rx for physical therapy from your rheumatologist.

Prenatal Exercise and Bedrest

While awaiting the most miraculous event, the birth of your baby, it is normal to take it easier with your workouts, and to relax when you need to. But what do you do if you are a strong, fit, mama to be who is put on bed rest? If you are on bed rest it can be for a variety of reasons, including;  vaginal bleeding, multiples, history of pregnancy loss, etc.. To make sure that you and your baby are safe, it is important to listen to your Doctor, and to spend most of the time laying on your side with a pillow between your knees, or laying on your back- propped up on pillows. You do not have to lay completely still all day everyday. Here is a simple exercise routine to follow. As always, check with your Doctor first, and know that you can still enjoy a restorative Yoga practice including meditation, special breathing techniques, and particular shapes that are safe for the body. Here are 6 things you can do on bedrest;

  1. Close your eyes and focus on your breath. Slow your breath down, and slow your thoughts down. Breathe deeply through the nose only. If this is uncomfortable, you can breathe through the mouth as well. When breathing through the nose only, this is called Ujayii Pranayama and it creates a little whispery sound in the back of the throat that sounds like the ocean’s waves. Try to ‘stretch’ your breath, meaning that if you are used to taking a 3 second inhalation, and a 2 second exhalation, try now to make both the in breath and the out breath 4 seconds long. This should bring a sense of calm and relaxation to the body and the mind.
  2. Visualize the beautiful baby inside of you. Imagine your baby’s head pointed down towards your pelvis, and his/her back to your belly. Send your love and your blessings to your baby. What is it that you have always wished for your baby? Love, peace, laughter? Whatever it is, imagine that you are sending that to your child with each breath.
  3. Sit upright and place your hands about 6-12 inches behind you on the bed. Lift your heart and if it feels ok, then let your head dip back a little. This is an extremely gentle backbend that will allow you to stretch the front of your body and stretch tired shoulders in an easy way.
  4. Keep sore shoulders strong with I’s, Y’s and T’s. This is a great exercise that is normally done with dumbbells, but at this time you are just going to use the exercise as a way to get a little bit of blood circulating into the shoulder joint (with no weights). Sit up in bed and lift your arms directly overhead for one breath, then out to the side on an angle, as though you were making the letter ‘Y.’ Now take the arms straight out to the side, and make the letter ‘T.’ Repeat a total of 3 times to feel the upper body enjoying a little movement.
  5. Purchase a stress ball and squeeze it with your hands. This will help you to maintain grip strength. Make sure to breathe deeply while using the stress ball, and if you are feeling frustrated about being on bedrest, imagine that frustration moving out of your body, into the ball (don’t worry, you can ask someone to rinse the ball with cool water afterwards). Remember to breathe deeply as you do this, as it is extremely important for you not to hold your breath while squeezing the ball.
  6. Pillows can help you to enjoy a very easy Yoga posture called supported supta badha konasana. Lay 2 pillows vertically on your bed (these will be for your spine). Now place one more pillow on top horizontally (this is for your head). Lay back onto your pillows and allow your knees to bend and open to the sides (like a butterfly stretch, but laying down). If your inner thighs are tight, you can place more pillows under your outer thighs and knees. Lay back and relax and allow your body at least one minute in this shape and take the time to invite in peace and tranquility.

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