Ah, exercise! Love it or hate it, most of us have heard our doctors tell us that it’s vital to overall wellbeing, not to mention our particular illnesses and/or pain. But for many, that’s not exactly total motivation; that is, just because someone tells us we have to do it, and they are a health expert, doesn’t mean that we’ll be able to take their words to the track or the pool or wherever else we try to act on their advice.
Finding the fitness feats that fit for each of us requires a sometimes herculean effort – When? Where? How? How much? How little? Honestly, that’s an exercise in puzzle solving by itself.
And yet, we know fitness is important. We know that the right kind of exercise can give us extra strength, energy, and perhaps chase away the blues that hover at times during these painful, unpredictably illness-laden lives. So, what do we do about it?
Obviously, there are oodles of possibilities. Gyms, of course, which can be pricey and distant. Home exercise tapes, which may or may not give us the workouts we need. If you’re in a temperate climate, walking outdoors is a possibility. If not, even the local mall might be a good place to get those sneakers on. But the most earnest or grandiose plan to exercise will fall apart quickly if the key to it all, the key to perseverence, is missing…
I’m someone who did everything she could to get out of gym class in high school. Dodge ball was not me, and the few times I tried a balance beam were, well, forgettable in the deepest sense of the word. But there was one thing…Before lupus, I used to play tennis 4 or 5 times a week, if I could. I’d even travel with my racquet sometimes, and play after long days of meetings. Alas, now that I cannot go out in the sun and play, and also because I’ve developed nasty arthritis, I have to limit my court time. But I still try to play, as well as follow other doctors’ suggestions about things I can do to stay fit enough to do so – and here is my key to finding fitness that fits:
Find something moving that moves you emotionally, that you discover you like doing. Talk to your doctor about what he or she suggests and/or work with a physical therapist to get specific guidance, and then try a few possibilities until you find the thing that works for you, your health, and your heart – physical and emotional. It’s not impossible, especially if you approach exercise creatively. For example, there have been a few studies that gardening is good for the health – and those who’ve spent time tilling the soil know already how much of a workout it can be. Parking the car a few blocks from work or the doctor’s office and walking there can contribute to an exercise plan. Being mindful of how sedentary you are now, and shaving minutes of “sit time” off each week can help, too.
I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to work with your doctor about your individual health situation when it comes to exercise. And, as you explore the possibilities, keep in touch with your heart. Find that fitness feat that fits – and enjoy!
Blessings for the day,