Arthritis painLearn how your body’s internal clock and focus can affect your arthritis symptoms.

Every 24 months, there is a deadline I must meet. I start the process three months early. I don’t relish the idea of starting early, but as a planner and organized person, it makes sense, right? Doesn’t everyone need a running start? I also ban my husband and cats from my office.

Every two years I must re-certify as an Arthritis Foundation Program Leader. It coincides in May each year, which is Arthritis Awareness month. This is a difficult exam to pass and I often lose sleep over it. Loss of sleep can also affect my health. I could meditate, which would probably help me sleep better and disconnect from negative thoughts that hold me back from focusing.

I actually love the process of studying because it gives me more insight into the disease.

If you suffer from arthritis, you probably have symptoms that vary day-to-day. Other conditions, including Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), are usually worse in the morning, for instance, whereas gout frequently flares at night, and the pain from fibromyalgia (like so many other conditions) is more intense after a poor night’s sleep. Researchers believe these variations in timing and severity of symptoms may result in the interruption of circadian rhythms – 24-hour cycles of regular sleep, immune response and other functions.

In people with fibromyalgia, insomnia and other sleep problems can interfere with normal patterns of waking and sleeping – and therefore circadian rhythms – leading to reduced cortisol (a powerful anti-inflammatory produced by the adrenal glands). Maurizio Cutolo, MD, a professor of rheumatology at the University of Genova, Italy, says disrupted circadian rhythms in people with various forms of arthritis need to talk to their physician about adjusting medications to help their sleep patterns.

Sleep disorders are common in almost all rheumatologic diseases (including osteoarthritis, scleroderma and lupus), in turn leading to increased inflammation and more pain. Experts suggest that treating both sleep problems and pain may improve arthritis and other symptoms, along with regular exercise.

Helping individuals with arthritis, related rheumatic diseases, or musculoskeletal conditions to enjoy a more active lifestyle while improving health, is what we do at Lori Michiel Fitness. Exercise can help disrupt the Chronic Illness Symptom Cycle: Pain – Reduced Activity – Deconditioning – Fatigue – Psychological issues – Stress – Muscle Tension – Pain. (adapted from the Arthritis Foundation 2009)

Timing – it is best to begin an exercise program in later morning or afternoon, when you may have the least pain and stiffness.
Listen to your body. Pain is a warning.
Begin slowly and move gently without jerking, especially during a warm-up.
Breathe, breathe. Try inhaling through your nose and exhaling the same way. Focusing the breath will help put you in a meditative state.
Exercise daily! Even on “bad” days gently move your joints to keep them healthy.

Exercise should never feel like drudgery. Consider your obstacles and brainstorm with others. Schedule exercise on your calendar to avoid other activities from interfering. Shoot for a minimum of three to five days a week for at least 30 to 60 minutes. And remember, exercise will absolutely help your sleep patterns.

Follow my YouTube videos for some fresh ideas that offer other types of safe exercise. We offer private training, including stretch sessions, program design and more. Join us on Facebook or con tact us via email or call 818-620-1442. We see fitness differently!

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