Group fitness classes that focus on cardiovascular conditioning include step-type classes and dance-based classes, among others. Class levels range from ones conducted mostly in chairs for people with limitations to ones conducted at a very vigorous and challenging level. Group cardio classes provide camaraderie and support, and can be fun for people at all fitness and skill levels. Choose a class that you find enjoyable and presents you with a challenge but isn't so difficult you give up.
However, before you start check with your GP or rheumatologist to see if they think this level of exercise is suitable for you. Also let your instructor know if you have any limitations so they can suggest alternative activities when appropriate.
Specific modifications will depend on your joints affected, but you may consider the following:
- If you have balance problems, have a chair or some other stable object close that you can hold.
- If jumping is painful, keep one foot on the floor or step at all times. Step up on a flat foot and down on the ball of your foot and roll down to the heel.
- Be sure to participate in the instructor-led warm-up, cool-down and stretches.
- Go at your own pace. You can move to every-other beat and build up speed as you become more fit.
- Slowly increase the time, speed and intensity of your workout as you build strength and endurance.
- Gradually build to the recommended 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week.
Adapted with thanks from the Arthritis Foundation.