We often hear some people, whether young or old complain about rheumatoid arthritis, blaming the condition for the pain in their joints that causes them to be immobile. This pain limits them from enjoying the activities they love and keeps them at home when all they want is to explore the world. But did you know that using pedometers can help individuals with rheumatoid arthritis? Yes, pedometers are the new prescription for rheumatoid arthritis.
What is Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that can affect your joints. However, in some instances, this condition can also affect one’s skin, eyes, lungs, heart and blood vessels. It is easy to mistake osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis as both results in joint pains. However, there is a huge difference in the joint symptoms.
Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks your own body tissues. Meanwhile, osteoarthritis is caused by mechanical wear and tear on joints. Aside from this, the two conditions have different duration, pattern,speed onset and more. Check out the table below to see the differences between the two.
|Age when condition strikes||May begin any time in life||It usually begins later in life|
|Speed of onset||Relatively rapid over the weeks to months||Slow over the years|
|Joint symptoms||Joints are painful, swollen and stiff||Joint aches and may be tender but have little or no swelling|
|Pattern of affected joints||Affects small and large joints on both sides of the body like both hands, both wrists, both elbow or both balls of the feet
|The symptom begins on one side of the body and may spread to the other side. It is usually limited to one set of joints usually finger joints closest to the fingernails or thumbs, large weight-bearing joints or spine.|
|Duration of morning stiffness||May lasts longer than 1 hour||Lasts less than 1 hour but may return at the end of the day or after periods of activity|
|Presence of symptoms||Frequent fatigue and feeling ill||Whole body symptom is not present|
How Pedometers Helps You Deal With Rheumatoid Arthritis
Aside from joint pain, fatigue is a common problem for people with rheumatoid arthritis. Fatigue keeps them from engaging in physical activities that they enjoy. The more fatigue you experience, the lesser activities you do. To resolve this issue, researchers from the Univeristy of California examine one way of breaking this cycle by using pedometers.
Dr. Patricia Katz, Ph.D. and professor of Medicine and Health Policy; Division of Rheumatology, Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco carry out this study with the funding from Rheumatology Research Foundation.
The study involved 96 people from previous studies and Rheumatology clinics. They need to be English or Spanish speaking, must be able to return for follow up visits, experience a moderate level of fatigue and be sedentary. Of the participants, 88% were women with an average age of 54 and are diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis for an average of 14 years.
The participants filled out a Health Assessment Questionnaire. They were also asked about their level of fatigue. The group received an average fatigue score of 59. They were then asked to wear an activity tracker for one week to determine their level of activity. The median of the number of steps during the first week was only 3, 710 steps which were below the sedentary lifestyle (5,000 steps a day).
After a week, the participants were grouped into three randomly. The first group received education in physical education without any intervention. The second group received a pedometer with a daily diary to log their daily steps. The third group received a pedometer, step diary and a goal of increasing their steps by 10 percent every two weeks.
Group two and three received calls from study personnel every two weeks to check their progress and collect the number of steps walked. However, aside from the call, the third group also received a new step goal for the next two weeks. All of the groups received a follow up call after 10 weeks and participated in an in-person follow up at 21 weeks.
After 21 weeks, groups two and three showed significant increases in their step count, compared to the first group, who did not show any change in their activities. The second group increased their step count by 87% while the third group experienced 159 percent increased.
“Just having a pedometer and reporting steps seemed to be important,” Dr. Katz said. “Combined, both pedometer groups increased average daily steps by 125 percent, and both had significant decreases in fatigue. Of course, having goals seemed to create an even greater increase in steps and decrease in fatigue, but the important shift occurred just from having the pedometer and monitoring steps.”
All groups noticed a decrease of fatigue by doing more activities. However, it was the participants who were least active at the beginning of the study who noticed significant fatigue reduction at the end.
The study revealed that using fitness tracking devices such as pedometers are efficient in motivating us to keep active. You should be aware of your activity level, especially if you have rheumatoid arthritis.
“Overall, this study further confirms the importance of physical activity for people with RA (rheumatoid arthritis),” Dr. Katz said, suggesting that individuals with rheumatoid arthritis should add more step to their daily activity. “Not only does it help to reduce fatigue — as shown in this study — it may improve mood, help a patient maintain a healthy weight, improve cardiovascular risk factors, and improve overall functioning.”
If you know someone with rheumatoid arthritis who always suffers from fatigue, you better give him a pedometer to help him track his step count. Encourage him to keep moving with this fitness tracking device to reduce his fatigue and improve his mood.
There are several types of pedometers on the market that will surely fit you or anyone who wishes to track his activities. There are pocket pedometers and wristband or watch pedometers. You can check out the best pedometer brands here. Check it and get one for yourself or someone dear to you with rheumatoid arthritis for a better living and healthier lifestyle.