Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Second close-up of pictureWe hear about it from our doctors, physical therapists, and other medical professionals. And we certainly get regular updates and encouragement from the media: Find some way to exercise! Work with your doctors to develop a plan! Understand that you’ll feel better! Find the time to get in that 15 minuts/30 minutes/etc. of exercise x-times a week.

Oh, how this can be much easier said than done! Many people I know (myself included, sometimes) find it difficult to get regular, effective exercise during busy times (which seem to be more prevalent these days). I think this is not so much because of an aversion to exercising, but it is because we often don’t take into account the totality of what goes into regular exercise – how much time it really takes.

I’m not against exercise, of course – I appreciate its great benefits.  And I do believe we who have chronic illness and pain must work with our medical teams to find what’s right for each of us. But, it’s that time element that can be tricky and difficult to manage, expecially if the “medical team” consists of multiple docs that we see on a regular basis.

For example, “15 minutes” of exercise sounds brief and doable in anyone’s schedule. But, if we have to wear “proper” clothing, including supportive shoes, be awake enough to not trip over our feet – and relaxed enough to not strain ourselves, warm up and cool down, and get the most out of the elements of the exercise. If the time parameter of the exercising is increased, so too are the preparation and after-time. It’s not unthinkable to have a half-hour become an hour or more! If we have to drive someplace to accomplish out exercise goals, the commute adds more time to that we already are going to dedicate to the activity. And if we happen to be the kind of person who becomes a veritable fountain of perspiration as soon as the heart rate goes up, we have to add time for proper hygiene afterward  – or suffer social stigmatizing from relatives, friends, and even the family pet!

I try to schedule my exercise time much as I would my doctors’ appointments and medical tests, allowing for the “before” and “after,” too. I also have worked with my medical team to figure out what activity is appropriate on “good” days and “bad” days (we have to understand our bodies and how flares and other symptoms fluctuate to benefit from any exercise). Understanding how much total time it takes for me to accomplish any particular form of exercise helps tremendously in achieving what my docs and I hope to accomplish.





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