It is often said that exercise that involves moving all of your joints and working your muscles helps to ease pain. There are many different ways that we can continue to be active. For some it is going to the local gym and working out at a slow and easy pace using the treadmill, stationary bike or StairMaster. Plus, there is aqua therapy, also known as water therapy.
It is difficult to exercise when you are already dealing with daily pain and the thought of movement through exercise can just be plain scary and overwhelming. Everything I have read and researched says that it doesn’t have to be extreme exercise, like running 10 blocks or swimming 20 laps in a pool. Moderate exercise is what the experts say helps to reduce our pain and it also helps us maintain a healthy weight.
One of the things I find helpful about exercise is that it gives me a sense of accomplishment; it helps me feel better about myself. It can also help me sleep better at night. Many of us living with pain worry about increasing our pain if we exercise. When I first started trying to move around more, I was very hesitant because the one thing I did not need was more pain. I was also afraid I might injure myself. I found that is not always the case.
I decided to test the theory that exercise would help lessen my pain so I did a little experiment. For a couple days I did not exercise and it wasn’t long before I noticed that my pain, my joints and overall body was more stiff and painful. It was like I was getting weaker.
Then, I went out with a determined mind set out to exercise. Nothing crazy, just simple low-impact movements. I first talked to my healthcare provider to ask his advice on what type(s) of exercise he felt were best for me and would benefit me the most. I wanted to make sure that I was choosing something that would be a benefit and not increase and aggravate my pain.
Together, we decided that I would use the treadmill each day – nothing fast, just slow and steady. I had a small television that I could watch as I walked and it helped to pass the time. I started out slow for just 15 minutes at a very slow pace. I did this for the first week and then for the second week I added another 15 minutes for a total of 30 minutes, once a day. Then, I started walking for 30 minutes twice a day. Very soon, I noticed that I had more energy throughout the day and I did not seem to have as much joint stiffness or muscle pain.
At my healthcare provider’s suggestion, I kept this routine going for 3 months. At the end of the 3 months, he suggested that I step it up a notch and add a little more incline to the treadmill routine, still being careful not to overdo. He told me if I felt a lot of pain or discomfort, then back it down. We all know that we are supposed to feel some discomfort when we exercise, but we should not feel it to the point that we are really uncomfortable.
I increased the incline and even decided to speed the walk up just a bit. I continued with 30 minutes twice a day. I felt better and better. I had more energy. I was sleeping better. I had a better appetite. Overall, I was feeling like a new person in some ways.
Because of some of my health issues, there are days that I am not very steady on my legs and I’m not comfortable walking on the treadmill, On those days, I have a routine of walking from one room to another several times to get my heart rate up and to heat up my joints/muscles which helps to keep me from going back to the stiffness and joint pain I have without exercise.
What works for you?