Today is Day 14 of 31 Days of Chronic Illness. You can start Day 1 here.
Besides nutritious eating and watching out for chemicals there is another facet to taking care of our bodies in this journey through chronic illness. Exercise & fitness.
Just saying it sounds exhausting, right? When you're in the throws of illness the last thing you want to do is work out. You're already dog-tired, maybe even in pain. If you're anything like me, when I'm having a "bad spell" my symptoms actually worsen after within 2 hours after exercising. It hardly seems productive.
And yet, all of the experts will tell you that one of the best things to produce health in your body is to exercise. Exercise can have these positive effects on your body:
- better sleep
- improve blood flow to the brain
- boost immune system
- reduce risk of cancer
- improve blood sugar
- lowering blood pressure
- increasing energy levels
- and many more
The key, I think, is this: finding the right exercises and doing them only to the point that it is beneficial. It is important to challenge yourself to incorporate fitness elements into your week but exercise should not become another stressor in your already stressed out life (James L. Wilson, Adrenal Fatigue). Choose one or a combination of activities that you enjoy and do them slowly at first, only building up to the level of exertion your body can tolerate.
While I may not have enough energy to participate in a spin class right now, I can do a few arm exercises at home before I go to bed. If I were to walk a couple miles I would be in a lot of pain by the end of the evening, but I can work in a few light stretches to keep my muscles loose and less prone to injury.
So my challenge to you today is to start exploring some light fitness activities that could bring you joy as well as help get your body moving. Here are a few suggestions:
- swimming (a heated pool would be ideal)
- yoga, pilates or other slow stretching exercises
- physical therapy
- walking (outdoors or treadmill)
- elliptical trainer
- cycling (indoor or outdoor)
- isometric contractions
- push ups, sit ups
- water aerobics
- dancing, Zumba
- light weights
- archery or other low impact sports
- Wii Fit or Xbox Kinect
- kayaking or stand-up paddleboard
- horseback riding
Obviously this is not an exhaustive list but I hope it will help you find some activities that bring you fitness as well well-being. If you have any other ideas, please share them in the comments section!