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You may be thinking that staying active is the last thing someone with rheumatoid arthritis wants to do, when energy levels are often low and joints are often inflamed.

However, studies show that regular exercise and activity may help reduce joint pain and stiffness, increase joint mobility and muscle strength and improve psychological well-being. Research has shown that strength training exercise, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes all have the potential to even slow the progression of the condition [that means less joint damage]. Recommended exercises include swimming, stationary bicycles, weight lifting and yoga.

And the last month was proof that staying active has really improved my RA pain.

At the beginning of June, I was at the top of Yosemite’s Nevada Falls. And just a couple weeks later, I made it on another 8-mile hike up the Na Pali Coast in Kauai, Hawaii. Hiking through beaches, jumping over creeks and sloshing through the mud from the rain, my boyfriend and I made it to the beautiful Hanakapi’ai Falls and then back in time for sunset at the beach.

The Kalalau Trail was such an amazing view of Kauai’s coast and immersion into its dense forests. I was so happy that I was strong enough to finish the hike. And the best part was that I finished without pain! Of course my muscles [especially my thighs from those stair-steppers] were sore after that strenuous day, but my joints were strong and not even swollen.

I am a firm believer that it is because I have been swimming, weight lifting, biking and even spinning regularly. My muscles have gotten stronger to protect my weak joints. And it has really helped lessen my flare ups as well. I’m even starting to talk to my doctor about remission [AHHH]!

Living with rheumatoid arthritis doesn’t have to stop you from traveling [or hiking] these beautiful places in the world.