If you have fibro, chronic fatigue or another chronic health challenge, you may be frustrated with the topic of exercise. Well-meaning doctors and friends will tell you that you just need to get more exercise and get to the gym.
Exercise is a proven mood-lifter and helps keep our weight in healthy range. While it is a good idea to move more, you have to begin at the beginning, and that can be frustrating. There were many exercise classes and gyms I’ve joined, only to quit after a few sessions because I got frustrated, pushed too hard and hurt myself.
Here are some tips to keep in mind so you don’t have that same experience:
- Try for more movement, not necessarily “exercise.” Even an Olympic athlete doesn’t perform a gold-medal-winning gymnastics routine in her first time on the mat. Start where you’re comfortable. For some folks that means taking a mile-long walk. For some, that may mean to try five minutes of gentle stretches from a seated position along with a DVD. You can start by parking a little further away when you go to the store, and using the stairs at work for the last flight or two. Stressing yourself to join a gym or a class that may not be aligned with your ability level is a recipe for injury. Slow and easy wins the race. Just keep trying to do a bit more each week.
- Choose an activity that you truly enjoy If you love to be outdoors, a sweaty gym is not gonna cut it. If you’re not outdoorsy, hiking through the woods in the elements will not be fun for you. Think back to when you were a kid. Did you love riding your bike? Try to work that in, weather permitting. Maybe you love music and dancing. How about trying a dance DVD like Zumba or go “old-school” with Jazzercise or Jane Fonda. Sometimes when I am at my desk too long I’ll blast some disco music and dance in my office. Anyone looking in my window probably thinks I’m a lunatic but hey, it’s fun and it feels good.
- Stay relentlessly positive A few years back I was enjoying Pilates class but as time went by I was not progressing as quickly as hoped. Also, I had to use more modifications than anyone else in class and I started to let that sour my experience. I began to throw a pity party in my head, “Why can she do it and I can’t? And she’s older than I am! It’s not fair I have fibro. I can’t do anything anymore! Why do I even bother to try? I should just go take a nap and never exercise again.” NOT motivating. Since I had already paid for four more sessions, I made a pact not to compare myself to anyone else and to just do what I could – and I instantly started to enjoy the class again. Yes, I made slow progress but I tried to focus on gratitude that a year prior to that class I could barely get up out of bed. It’s all perspective and you get to choose. Be a victim or be FABULOUS! Up to you.
Do you struggle with getting activity in your life? What has worked for you? Leave a comment below and let us know how you are making it work.