Do you succumb to the thought process of New Year, New You? I do not, and I will tell you why. First of all, having a chronic pain illness often limits my mobility. Really, the term “new you” sounds awesome, but is unrealistic for someone with an incurable condition. Do I really want to set myself up for failure? I don’t think so. However, there are so many ways to get some exercise in your day. I’m going to give you my 4 ways to exercise while chronically ill. I want to motivate you and myself to keep moving (not to lose weight ~ although that wouldn’t hurt lol).
I have been overweight for about twenty years; the doctor even gave me the diagnosis of “obese”. At any rate, going back even further I never really have enjoyed exercise or had much willpower. The only big physical challenge I have ever done was walking a half marathon in my 30’s. This was a huge accomplishment and I actually lost 20 pounds doing this. Sadly, I also developed bursitis in my hips which is very painful.
I was about 40 when I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and arthritis in my lower back and hips. The combination of all this has made it very difficult for me to lose weight, exercise, and just generally be active. The ironic part of this story is that all the Rheumatologists I have seen “encourage” me to be active. I was even told, “Your pain is not dangerous! You are going to be in pain on the couch just as much as going for a walk.” Yes, doctors are very sympathetic to Fibromyalgia as you can see.
Reasons to exercise seem self-explanatory right? It is good for your body and your mind, we all know that. However, these reasons are the same for Fibromyalgia patients as well. In fact, The National Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Association (NFCPA) explains how not moving our muscles can cause atrophy and de-conditioning. When this happens, it causes us more pain and puts us in an endless cycle when we do finally move.
Furthermore, NFCPA informs us about The Oregon Health and Science University Fibromyalgia Research Center. They have been researching Fibromyalgia for the past 25 years and advocate movement for Fibro patients. Better yet, they don’t just advocate exercise but they develop exercises that are gentle and appropriate for patients with Fibromyalgia.
Again, the benefits of exercise seem obvious. However, the benefits are especially great for Fibromyalgia patients. Chronic illness explains the many benefits, here are just a few:
- Better Sleep
- Better range of motion
- Improved mood
- Controlled weight
- Increased energy
- Relieving pain
I want to point out that these are not cures but if done consistently can make an impact on your symptoms.
I have to admit, exercise is an area I need to work on. Not just physically but mentally as well. Now, if my doctor would have presented an exercise in a different way to me, I would have been more perceptive to the idea. Making me feel like I need to exercise and ignore my pain will make any Fibro patient get a little defensive.
There are many exercises that you can do that are helpful with muscle pain and stiffness. None of these for me, are easy but I have to admit when I do them I feel a little better (sometimes). Let’s talk about some ideas to get us moving.
This is the first that comes to mind because it involves gentle stretching. There are so many different types of Yoga, which we will save for another post. Nonetheless, the most important part is just that you are doing something.
The poses I do when practicing Yoga are:
My recommendation is to pick one and do it for a few seconds, as you become comfortable with the poses increase the hold and amount of poses you do. Even if you just do one pose for 30 seconds a day, this is a great start.
This is one that I really wish I could do, yet I do not have access to a pool. Doing exercise in the pool is so helpful when you have stiff and painful joints. There are so many things you can do in a pool.
If you cannot stand or you don’t trust your balance, this is a great idea. You can adapt any exercise that you see with a person standing on a chair.
This can be done anywhere even in your living room. So, I began my challenge by walking at my desk at work and in my living room at home.
- I simply started walking in place for one minute.
- Then, I started increasing my time.
- I am now walking outside (on my break at work) for 5 minutes. If I feel up for it, I will do this two times a day. Mostly it has just been one though.
I want to share this challenge with my readers! I am hoping to keep myself accountable and have some fun with others (virtually of course). The point of this challenge is to get yourself moving in whatever way you can and feel comfortable doing. Start small and work up to more as you feel you can.
Remember the goal is to just get moving, try not to judge yourself on weight or how much or how little your body is able to move. Lastly, this is not a competition! Only encouraging and positive comments will be allowed. Try not to compare yourself to anyone else, as your chronic illness may be different than theirs. Lastly, don’t forget to have fun and maybe make some new friends and a support system you never knew was there. If you are wanting to make changes with your exercise or nutrition, I can help as a certified health coach!
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