On Trend: Fitness for Ankylosing Spondylitis
Want to incorporate the latest fitness trends into your ankylosing spondylitis–friendly exercise routine? Two trainers and a physical therapist show you how.
V irtual workouts have become increasingly popular in recent years, but they really exploded during the COVID-19 pandemic as gyms closed and people looked for ways to stay fit at home. According to an annual survey from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), online training is the number one fitness trend of 2021 — up from 26th place in 2020.
That’s not the only trend that took off this past year. Bodyweight training, incorporating mindfulness into a workout, and squeezing in a sweat session during your lunch break are just some of the other exercise habits that are changing the way we work out.
If you have ankylosing spondylitis, you probably already know that exercise is one of the best things you can do to help ease symptoms, increase flexibility, and maintain an upright posture. But you may be wondering if it’s safe to incorporate these fitness trends into your exercise routine. The answer is yes — with some potential modifications.
Whether you’re new to exercise or looking to switch things up, On Trend has you covered. Here are three low-impact workouts you can do from the comfort of your own home. Let’s get moving!
Meet the Experts
Sweat trainers Kelsey Wells and Phyllicia Bonanno will guide you through the workouts, with help from Cara Ann Senicola, who shares her tips and advice for making the most of your fitness routine.
Sweat trainer Kelsey Wells is one of the most sought-after personal trainers, providing health and fitness advice to women around the world. Through her PWR workout programs, Kelsey helps women focus on self-love, inner strength, and lifting weights without intimidation.
Sweat instructor Phyllicia Bonanno, a certified yoga instructor since 2016, says yoga provides an outlet for self-expression in addition to its physical benefits. She teaches classes in addition to her full-time job as an elementary school art teacher.
Cara Ann Senicola
A physical therapist at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, Cara Ann Senicola is also a board-certified orthopedic clinical specialist and certified yoga teacher and running coach. Her clinical interests include orthopedics and sports medicine with a special focus on treating runners, fitness enthusiasts, and yogis.
On Trend: Fitness Tips
Kelsey, Phyllicia, and Cara share their best fitness tips and inspirational stories that will help you get moving.
Why It’s Important to Use Proper Form
Trend #1: Low-Impact Lunch Break Workout
For many of us, our home has also become an office, a classroom, and a gym. While you may have to make an effort to step away from work to exercise, it’s more convenient than ever to fit in a workout before or after work, in between Zoom meetings, or even during your lunch break.
In fact, a survey conducted by ClassPass found that lunchtime workouts have seen a 67 percent rise in popularity. For the first time ever, noon is the most popular time to take a fitness class. This may be due in part to no longer having to worry about driving to the gym, working out, showering, and making it back to the office before the hour is over.
This lower-body workout from Wells is one you can easily do on your lunch break — or whenever you have 15 to 20 minutes to spare. The focus is on building strength in your glutes, quads, and hamstrings to help improve stability in your legs and hips, which can help you move easier and take strain off your spine if you have ankylosing spondylitis. Even better? All the moves are low impact — no jumping involved! “Low-impact workouts are great for anyone with ankylosing spondylitis, as they do not put added stress or pressure on the back or spine,” says Wells.
Grab a mat and a bottle of water and get started!
What time of day do you prefer to work out?
Trend #2: No-Equipment, Full-Body Strength Workout
Strength training is always a popular workout option. According to the ClassPass survey, strength workouts are the online classes most likely to be replayed. Strength and resistance exercises can help build muscle and take pressure off stiff, achy joints, which is especially important for people who have ankylosing spondylitis. And strength exercises that focus on your core — your abdominal and back muscles — can help support your spine and ease back pain, according to the Spondylitis Association of America.
If you’re working out at home, you may not have access to all the strength-training equipment you would if you were at the gym. The good news is, you don’t need it. You can build strength using just your body weight. In fact, according to the ACSM, bodyweight training is one of the top fitness trends for 2021, because it’s an inexpensive and functional way to exercise effectively.
This full-body workout from Wells engages your major muscle groups to help keep your body in a strong and stable posture — no equipment required. But if you do want to kick things up a notch, just take a look around. “There are many items you can use at home to help you with your workout,” says Senicola. To add resistance to this routine, “You can use a bag of rice, a can, or even a laundry pod container,” she says. “Just make sure it’s nothing made of glass.”
Trend #3: A Yoga Flow for Your Mind and Body
Yoga is a millennia-old practice that started becoming mainstream in the United States in the 1930s. But now it’s more popular than ever — so much so that ClassPass named yoga the top online workout of the past year.
Yoga requires minimal space and equipment, making it an ideal home workout. Another reason yoga may be taking off is an increased interest in the mind-body connection. People are turning to exercises that incorporate mindfulness as a way to manage stress and maintain a positive mindset.
“We all feel stressed sometimes,” says Bonanno. “Movement that helps us focus on our mind and body connection, such as yoga, is a great way to help boost your mood and relieve stress.”
Yoga also provides a number of physical benefits. It’s especially good for people with ankylosing spondylitis because it can help improve flexibility, increase range of motion, and stabilize your core to support your spine. In this workout, Bonanno demonstrates yoga poses that help open your shoulders and hips, areas that can get particularly tight in people with ankylosing spondylitis. So put on some soothing music, set your intention, and focus on your breathing as you move through this yoga flow.