Swimming is one of the better exercises for anyone with joint problems because you don't put any stress on the joints. I try to go frequently to improve my fitness and muscle strength. My muscles are really really weak due to my disease being uncontrolled for a long time, and we just won't talk about my fitness! One thing that I find helps is going to the sauna straight after being in the pool. The heat helps prevent my muscles and joints from seizing up after a swim. I can sympathise with how hard it is though, especially when things are bad. The pool I use at uni is at the bottom of a very steep hill and I live at the top. I have to walk and if I swim on bad day then making back to my flat is nearly impossible.
The key is to do short, gentle sessions. When i was younger I swam competatively and I stupidly tried to do the same amount I used to do in the pool and nearly broke myself. It was a harsh lesson in pacing! Now I know that it is ok if I can only do 8 lengths in half an hour.
Dx: Panic Disorder, Psychotic Depression, Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rx: Humira, Methotrexate, Plaquenil, Prednisolone, Codeine, Diclofenic Sodium, Folic Acid, Propranolol, Citalopram