It’s no secret that living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can feel limiting when you’re trying to stay fit. This autoimmune disease can affect the joints and other systems, including the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. But staying physically active helps reduce pain, increase energy, and improve day-to-day functioning.
For some fitness inspiration, here are nine social media stars with RA who keep their bodies active. Whether competing in triathlons, running obstacle courses, or practicing Bikram yoga, they like to move it!
1. Anna Evangeline
Evangeline has undergone six hip surgeries from RA since childhood. But despite her challenges, some of her favorite activities include yoga, kettlebell training, and obstacle courses. An advocate for RA in many ways, Anna’s involvement includes being an ambassador for the Arthritis Foundation and initiator of the fundraising group “Team Hips.” To follow her inspiring journey, you can find her on Twitter, Instagram, or her blog.
2. Jill Kuhn
From swimming to biking to running, Kuhn does it all! A dedicated triathlete, she keeps going despite dealing with RA symptoms, four broken bones, four surgeries, and elbow nerve damage she’s sustained during her two years of training. She doesn’t give up and overcomes her battles. Her next goal is to complete her first full Ironman in April 2017. Follow along her training via Facebook, Instagram, or her blog.
3. Jennifer D. Harrington
Having lived with RA for seven years, Harrington is a fitness coach and instructor who strives to motivate and help others be healthy and get in shape. If you follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, you’ll find inspiring workout clips and quotes that deliver a can-do attitude.
4. Joseph Encinia
Diagnosed at 8 years old, Encinia spent time in and out of the hospital. He decided eventually to regain control of his health and discovered the power of Bikram yoga. The results were amazing. He was free of his constant pain, lost 50 pounds, developed lean muscle mass, and, of course, contorted his body in ways some of us can only imagine. Encinia went on to become a three-time National USA Yoga Asana Champion and the 2011 Male International Asana Champion. Ready to get moving? Try out his yoga tutorial videos or follow him on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
5. Britt Ringstrom
“I wasn’t about to let this disease take over,” Ringstrom said in her TedxUMN talk about managing her RA and health. Ringstrom has kept moving despite being diagnosed with RA by competing in power lifting, Olympic weightlifting, and CrossFit. She also helps others as a certified personal trainer, fitness instructor, and owner of CrossFit Chanhassen in Minnesota. To get some training inspiration, follow her on Instagram or Twitter.
6. Abel Gonzalez
A warrior in multiple ways, Gonzalez isn’t just overcoming RA’s obstacles since being diagnosed at age 23. He’s also tackling obstacles on American Ninja Warrior — eight times over. And when it comes to social media, something we can all live by is his hashtag motto: #WeAreAllAbel. To see his ninja-like moves, follow him on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. You can also learn more on his personal website.
7. Aimee Espinoza
Diagnosed with RA at age 26, this athlete chose to use diet and exercise as her main treatment plan. Since then, she’s been running races, traveling the world, and doing Crossfit. She also writes a blog to share her story and help inspire other people with RA to live active and healthy lifestyles. To catch all of her adventures, you can follow her on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.
8. Ericka Waller
Filling her Insta bio with tags like #fitspo, #fitfam, #runner, and #cyclist, Erica proclaims she isn’t letting RA slow her down. You’ll find her Instagram account flooded with workout posts, family photos, and just flat-out inspiration for living a healthy, active life. Erica says living with RA is comparable to surfing. Some days she’s running and exercising, while other days pain and fatigue dominate. Outside of her active lifestyle, she is also a writer who blogs about motherhood. Check out her blog here or follow her on Instagram or Twitter.
9. Roberta Sheffield
When it comes to overcoming her RA symptoms, Roberta is taking hold of the reins. She’s lived with RA since the age of 15, but the Canadian Paralympic grade 3 para-equestrian dressage rider has continued to follow her love of dressage and training horses. She competed in her first Paralympic games in Rio in 2016. And according to the Canadian Paralympic Committee’s website, she hits the gym about six times a week on top of her equestrian training. Check out her personal website or follow Roberta on Facebook.