All the more reason for us to keep our bodies ready not only to (#1) survive in the best style possible, given our diagnosis—but also to (#2) be ready to reclaim our bodies when this happens.
I am working on #1.
This month I am in Virginia, finishing a writing project. Dilemma—I am not exercising like I do at home. At home if I twist an ankle I work out on the rowing machine till my leg is better. Here I don’t have Plan B equipment. It is me and the road—walking.
The goal of this blog is to get me outside today, tomorrow every day—away from the computer! I am talking to myself.
To get my energy level up I read articles about exercising—specifically walking, and walking when you have MS (that is in next week’s blog).
I need to be reminded of the benefits of exercise. Exercise results in improved muscle strength, and there is more.
Aerobic exercise is the form of exercise that has been proven to increase cognitive abilities—for the young, the middle aged and the elderly (https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201404/physical-activity-improves-cognitive-function; http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Arthur_Kramer2/publication/10833611_Fitness_effects_on_the_cognitive_function_of_older_adults_a_meta-analytic_study/links/0fcfd50da2a5b0ae48000000.pdf).
For balance…tai chi is known to help (http://www.nationalmssociety.org/Living-Well-With-MS/Health-Wellness/Exercise/Adaptive-Tai-Chi).
Mood improvement—exercise increases endorphins and results in a better mood. (http://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/exercise-and-depression-report-excerpt). I am psyched.
Don’t make a Big Plan--Just Do It
The studies make it easy to get started (http://lifehacker.com/5950484/how-to-motivate-yourself-into-an-exercise-routine-youll-actually-stick-to). They say—just walk—inside, outside, don’t worry about making it a major hike. Get started. (This can be done via wheelchair—it is called moving.)
Walk down your driveway. Walk down your hallway. Walk through the rooms of your home. Try moving in different ways, to challenge muscle groups and develop strength and balance—walk on your heels (yes, this can be done in a wheelchair, what you do is focus on movement), on your toes, sideways, backward, up and down hills. Try doing unique and strange military marches. Look at this utube presentation for inspiration (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7WqIDqWOJ0A ).
Two tricks to make yourself move more every day--
- Invest in a pedometer. Studies say we walk farther when that little contraption is measuring us (http://www.sfgate.com/health/article/Pedometer-users-walk-farther-get-healthier-3300697.php)Now I find a remote parking place at Walmart—I want to get my miles in.
- Intermittent exercise—if you get tired, take a break; get back to your exercise when you are ready.
The first place I heard this was from someone who heard the Olympic ski champion Jimmy Huega, who became a motivator for people with MS after his own diagnosis in 1970. At the time of his diagnosis the general wisdom for MSers was to dial back life, sit, lie down, be sedentary. He didn’t ascribe to this regimen, instead encouraged people to push themselves to the limit. “Take breaks,” he said. “Then keep going.”
The trick is the newly coined phrase “Intermittent Exercise.” You CAN take breaks. It doesn’t have to be done in one long exercise regimen. Even ten minutes at a time results in improvement in strength, stamina and positive results (http://www.todaysgeriatricmedicine.com/news/ex_092210_03.shtml
The important thing is to get up and move. It worked. I’m out of here!