Did you know that a body in pain needs to keep moving? Chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, etc. all show statistical improvements/benefits from gentle and consistent fitness routines.
When I talk about fitness programs at local support group meetings, I can hear groans all around the room. Many people want to believe that fitness programs are only for the athletic-type person — not true.
Fitness is for everyone!
It may seem counterintuitive to exercise a body that’s in pain, but I can only encourage you to do it anyway. Limiting your body is, well, limiting. Your muscles are designed for movement and sitting or lying still for long periods creates a build-up of pain.
The most common form of exercise is walking. How far and how fast you walk are not as important as the fact that you do walk. Get outside, if you can. Create an interesting route and pay attention to your body mechanics as you walk. Keep your back straight and your shoulders back. Don’t slump forward, and be careful to not shuffle your feet. Pay attention to any uneven pavement and ground as you go, and be sure to wear shoes with adequate support. Aim to walk with an even and steady stride, swinging your arms slightly at your sides.
As you become familiar with the route you’ve created, note how you feel at various landmarks. For example, are you winded by the time you get to the end of your driveway? Or, maybe you’re fine until you get to the yellow house on the corner. In any case, track your progress and acknowledge improvements as you go. Challenge yourself to go further and/or to change the direction of your path. Routines are great, and changing those routines is a powerful way to make and achieve your fitness goals.
Walking (whether outdoors or indoors) and weight-training exercises work well together. Walk one day and do a strength training exercise the next. It’s important to vary the muscle groups used (i.e., lower body workouts vs. upper body workouts). Strength training exercises can be done with free weights (even low, one pound weights can be very effective), resistance bands, or fitness DVDs. Look for more information online, at your local book and video store, or from the video section of your local library.
When implementing any new program, go slowly. Yes, you may experience increased discomfort at first, but it should wane as you continue. As long as you’re moving gently and within your own personal range of motion, you’re on the right track to fitness success!