Exercise is important no matter who you are or what you are dealing with. I believe it is a form of spiritual medicine for the body and the mind. Exercise helps people manage their stress which allows them to sleep better. It also keeps our muscles and joints strong which is important so we don’t continue the downward cycle we are on which can further worsen our pain. In fact, over time, exercise has been shown to help many people in chronic pain. Studies show that it can help them do activities they enjoy as well as making it easier for them to do their daily activities and tasks for living.
Things to Consider Before you Begin
- Make sure to discuss with your doctor or physical therapist what type of exercise you should be doing that would be right for you.
- Make sure to start out slow. Remember, even marathon runners started jogging a mile or two per day, working their way up to their 13 or 26 mile events!
- Set realistic goals for yourself. Some days you may have to do a little less, other days you may be able to do a little more. If you joined an exercise class, don’t risk hurting yourself to keep up with the group. You are exercising to improve you, not to compete with others!
- Make sure you take time to stretch before and after your routine.
- It is also a good idea to monitor your pain in a journal when you exercise. This will help you track whether you are pushing yourself too hard and possibly overdoing it.
Types of Exercise
There are many different types of exercise you can do. Walking, swimming, yoga, pilates, strength training, and stretching are good places to start. Walking can be done inside or outside. It’s great because you can always grab a friend or family member to go with you. For part of my physical therapy, I did over a year of swimming with my therapist. It is great for rehab and makes you basically weightless which helped me to improve my range of motion, build some strength and flexibility. Yoga and Pilates are mindful exercises that focus on improving balance and strengthening the body’s core. The body’s core refers to the muscles of the lower back, abdomen, and hips. Studies have found that individuals who did these types of exercises had improved balance which can help by reducing your chance of falling. Strength training supports healthy joints and muscles, keeping them up so they don’t deteriorate further. Stretching maintains flexibility and keeps your muscles loose.
I have always exercised and do so every day. A combination of walking, strength training, yoga and pilates works well for me. I love to exercise, it makes me feel good, gives me energy and it is my “me” time! So go talk to your doctor, figure out what’s right for you and begin!