TV presenter and journalist, Aggie MacKenzie, has learned to live with her rheumatoid arthritis, reports Iona Walton

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 Ever since How Clean Is Your House swept onto our screens in 2003, Aggie MacKenzie has been a household name. In only 10 years she has appeared in around 30 TV shows, written five books and is a regular columnist in Good Housekeeping, Sainsbury’s magazine, Best and Delicious.

Perhaps it is her “Highland stock” that holds her back from complaining about being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis when in her 20s.

“I still remember the sense of devastation when the doctor told me,” she says. “Pain in my hands had made me go – and a blood test confirmed my suspicions.”

There is a genetic component to Aggie’s arthritis. She remembers her parents’ swollen fingers and her father’s painful feet in later life so it was no great surprise when she was diagnosed.

 “Up in the Highlands of Scotland we don’t moan as there is always someone else worse off,” she laughs. “Other than my arthritis I consider myself to be healthy and my three sisters are lucky enough to rarely go to the doctor.”

Exercise is a big part of Aggie’s life and the way she manages her arthritis.

“I have tried to let my rheumatoid arthritis have as little impact on what I do as possible and exercise certainly helps me in both body and mind. Every morning I try to go for a 20 minute run, which I hate but I hate myself more if I don’t do it. I cycle as much as I can. My last big ride was from London to Paris in September, which I found challenging as I hadn’t trained enough.”

Aggie’s recent experience in a local yoga class ignited her enthusiasm for the discipline.  

“Yoga is truly fabulous. When you find a teacher who you relate to it’s an extremely special experience.

When Aggie is busy filming she finds it difficult to fit exercise in as she doesn’t have a set routine each week. But one thing remains constant: her “daily dose of cod liver oil, glucosamine sulphate and vitamin B6”.

“I love food and eat lots of everything – both the good and the bad – so I need exercise and my busy lifestyle to burn off the bad!”

“Opening jars and bottles with screw tops can be frustratingly difficult because my hands don’t close properly. I was delighted when wine manufacturers began to do away with corks but actually I think they might be easier to manage.

Aggie manages her arthritis by working hard, eating well, keeping her joints moving through regular exercise and taking her daily dose of vitamins and supplements.

“I carry my rheumatoid arthritis with me and try not to think about it too much.”

Visit www.aggiemackenzie.co.uk for more information.

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